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AFA magazine has a great role in transferring information, entrenching relationships, strengthening communication between AFA members and reflecting the different AFA activities. The new issue accompanies the New Year, wishing it to be a fruitful and happy new year for all humanity. The New Year will witness important and various activities, including the 17th AFA International Annual Forum, which will be held in Cairo from 1st to 3rd of February 2011.

Eng. Mohamed A. El-Mouzi AFA Chairman Chairman Chemical Industries Holding Co.

The “Arab Fertilizers” magazine abundantly includes a number of articles on various fertilizer industry aspects, technological development and role of fertilizer in increasing agricultural productivity, hence, food provision; the matter contradicting with trends heading to allocating huge areas of lands to grow crops used in the production of bio-fuel against the food system. It will further include in depth analysis of the markets, price trends’ expectations, following up the new contracts and under way projects in addition to connecting experts together and exchange of experiences regionally and internationally. We extend our greetings to the magazine’ Chief & Board of Editors for such high level of representation. In addition, we salute the Arab and foreign experts whose contributions represent a distinguished addition and an enrichment factor for the magazine content. I also seize the opportunity of the New Year to express my regards to AFA Board members and to all people of the industry in the Arab region, wishing that the New Year would bear all progress to our dear region.

Arab Fertilizers Issue Number (58) Sept.- Dec. 2010

Editor-in- Chief

Dr. Shafik Ashkar Secretary General

Deputy Editor-in- Chief Mrs. Mushira Moharam Members of Editorial Board (General Secretariat) Eng. Mohamed M.Ali Mr.Yasser Khairy Member of Editorial Board (Chairmen of AFA Committees) Eng. yehya Mashaly

AFA Economic Committee Chairman

Eng. Saed Bokisha

AFA Technical Committee Chairman

Eng. AbdulRahman Zuraig

AFA HSE Committee Chairman

Agricultural Consultant Dr. Mohamed M. El Fouly All correspondences to be addressed to: Arab Fertilizers Association P.O. Box 8109 Nasr City 11371 9 Ramo bdg. Omar ben Khattab St. Nasr Road - Nasr City Cairo, Egypt Tel: +20 2 24172347 Fax:+20 2 24173721 +20 2 24172350 E-mail:

Colour separation & printed by Tel : 37617863

”Arab Fertilizers” Journal is published by the General Secretariate of Arab Fertilizers Association (AFA).

6 Talent & Human Resources Management With Member Companies

Ma’aden phosphate production to begin in second quarter of 2011


10 Misr Fertilizers Production Company MOPCO FERTIAL Au capital social de 17.697.000.000 DA RC 0363222 B01 - NIF 000123036322209


Press Release

15 SABIC Awarded Level 1 Gold System Status Topsøe launches new sulphuric acid catalyst


Topsøe and Linde supply technology 16 Haldor for POSCO’s SNG plant in South Korea GPIC Wins Outstanding Corporate Award for GCC Job Localisation


AVANCORE UREA 19 STAMICARBON TECHNOLOGY LICENSED IN ARGENTINA AFA is a non-profit, non-gov. Arab Int’l. Organization established on 1975. AFA is operating under the umbrella of Council of Arab Economic Unity/ Arab League. AFA comprises all companies are producing fertilizer in Arab world in 14 Arab countries. All rights reserved. Single and multiple photocopies of extracts may be made or republished provided that a full acknowledgment is made of the source. The Journal is providing the chance for publishing adverts for the companies involved in manufacturing and trade of fertilizer and other

AFA Board of Directors

21 FAI Annual Seminar 36th IFA Enlarged Council Meeting

22 2011 Calendar



Mr. Mohamed El-Mouzi Board Members

Mr. Mohamed R. Al-Rashid UAE

Studies & Researches

Temporal Variability of Crop Response to Fertilizer


Mr. Mohamed Abdallah Mohamed IRAQ Mr. Hedhili Kefi Tunisia

Mr. Khalifa Al-Sowaidi

26 in Granulation Operation


Framing the Best Practices

Mr. Mohammed S. Badrkhan Jordan

Achieving excellence: culture and competence



Mr. Abdel Rahman Jawahery Bahrain

Mr. Fahad Saad Al-Sheaibi Saudi Arabia Mr. Jihad N. Hajji Kuwait


Mr. Khalifa Yahmood

Olive Cultivation in Italy The experiences of an Italian farmar



50 in Pakistan

Sulphur in Crop Production

agricultural inputs. The arrangements for that should be discussed with the journal’s management. The articles and all material contained herein do not necessarily represent the view of AFA unless the opposite clearly mentioned. The contributions of researchers, students, and experts in the field of fertilizer industry and trade are highly welcomed for free publication provided that they have not been published before. The General Secretariat is not obliged to return the articles which are not published.

Mr. Saleh Yunis Syria

Mr. Mazouz Bendjeddou Algeria Mr. Jamal Eddine Bensari Morocco Eng. Ahmed AL Awfi Oman

New Appointments in AFA Board Council AFA Welcomes its new Board Chairman & Vice-Chairman During the 88th AFA Board of Directors Council Meeting held in Beirut on October 30th, 2010, Mr.Mohamed Adel El-Mouzi, Chairman of Chemical Industries Holding Company (Egypt) was nominated as AFA’s Chairman for the year 2011. Mr. Mohamed Rashed Al-Rashid General Manager of FERTIL (UAE) was nominated as AFA Vice Chairman for the same period. AFA Board welcomed Mr. Mazouz Benjeddou, Director of Marketing in FERTIAL (Algeria) – as member Mr.Mohamed El-Mouzi Mr. Mohamed Rashed in the Board representing the Algerian companies in succession to Mr. Said Mekki. The AFA Board welcomed Mr. Jamal Eddine Bensari, Director Raw Material Procurements and Freight in OCP S.A. (Morocco) – as member in the Board Council representing the Moroccan companies in succession to Mr. Mohamed Benchekroun. Mr. Ahmed Al Awfi, Deputy CEO in Oman India Fertilizer Company (OMIFCO) joined AFA Board Council as a member Mr. M. Benjeddou Mr. Jamal Bensari Mr. Ahmed Al Awfi representing the Omani companies – in succession to Mr. Adel Bin Sakhi.

Thanks & Appreciation

Eng. M. Abdulla

AFA Chairman, Board members, Secretary General & Secretariat team extend deep appreciation and gratitude to Eng. Mohamed Abdallah for his fruitful and valuable efforts boosting AFA march and proceedings, during his chairmanship of AFA Board of Directors; wishing him all success.

Mr. Said Mekki

Mr. M.Benchekroun Mr. Adel Bin Sakhi

Also, we express our great appreciation and thanks to Mr. Mohamed Benchekroun, Mr. Said Mekki and Mr. Adel Bin Sakhi for their distinguished performance during their Board membership; Wishing them the best of luck and success.

Congratulations Jawahery has been appointed as President of GPIC The GPIC Board of Directors has approved a new Executive Organisation for the company, effective 1 January 2011. In this new organisation structure Mr. Abdulrahman Jawahery has been appointed as President of the company and Mr. Ahmed Nuruddin (previously Plants Operation Manager) has been appointed to the new position of General Manager Manufacturing.

Mr. Mohamed R. Al Rashid Achieving Master Degree in Chemical Engineering

AFA Chairman, Board Directors, Secretary General and General Secretariat team congratulate Mr. Mohamed R. Al Rashid – FERTIL General Manager on achieving his Master Degree in Chemical Engineering. Mr. Al Rashid ‘s thesis for his master’s degree was titled “Carbon /Dioxide Capture from Flue Gases” which compared industrial absorber data with simulated data with hollow fibre membrane contactor, using the software package gPROMs. The simulation module was operated in a wetted mode, with the absorbent solution flowing in the inner side of the fiber bore and the carbon dioxide gas flowing in the shell. The outlet absorbed carbon dioxide concentration was simulated and studied with respect to the liquid velocity, initial amine concentration and external mass transfer coefficient. It was concluded that the industrial absorber is more efficient for commercial quantities.

Training Program

Talent & Human Resources Management

October 29-31, 2010 - Beirut, Lebanon On October 29-31, 2010 AFA convened a training workshop on Talent & Human Resources Management in Beirut, Lebanon in cooperation with Meirc. The 3 days training program aimed to promoting the staff potentials, enhancing their performance and also it is beneficial for experienced officers and managers in Human Resources who wish to update their knowledge and skills about the latest techniques

From l. to r. Dr. Ashkar, Mr. Benchekroun, Mr. Sarkis, Mr. Abdallah, Mr. Rashed, Mr. Benjeddou & Mr. Bensari



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in the various Human Resources functions 55 delegates from 10 countries attended the training workshop which the Program Outlined the following topics: Talent Management Strategy “Necessary Evil” or Business Driver? Talent Management in the Arab World • Talent Management: is it a Problem or Solution? • Proactive Talent Management: What is it? How to Set it Up? • Group activity: Characteristics of Talent Management in the Arab World • The War for Talent • Critical Success Factors for an

Effective Talent Management System • Group Activity: Forces Affecting Talent Management in the Arab World • Institutional Strategies for Dealing with Talent Management • How to Retain Top Talent • HR Management: Definitions and Functions • Characteristics of Effective HR Management • HR as a Business Partner • Recruitment and Selection • Interviewing Techniques and Skills • The Selection Decision • Training and Development • Aligning Training with Strategy • Conducting Effective Training Needs Analysis • The Four Levels of Training

Evaluation • Recap • Performance Culture • The Performance Management Cycle • The Link Between Performance and Organization Strategy • Establishing Objectives and Managing the Cycle • How to Prepare and Conduct Effective Performance Discussion

Participants of Training program showed a keen interest during the sessions



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Ma’aden phosphate production to begin in second quarter of 2011

Project within budget, Ras Az Zawr commissioning underway The Saudi Arabian Mining Company, Ma’aden today announced that it has completed the project infrastructure and utilities of its phosphate joint venture with SABIC, Ma’aden Phosphate Company (MPC) and that commissioning is underway at some of the major production units at Ras Az Zawr. The Company has rescheduled the date for initial production, originally envisaged by the end of the fourth quarter of 2010, to the second quarter of 2011 by which time the associated infrastructure and supporting utilities in Ras Az Zawr will be in completed. Commercial production is now expected to commence in the 3rd quarter of 2011. The phosphate mine and beneficiation plant at Al Jalamid are now operating and first deliveries of phosphate concentrate have been made to facilitate the process of plant commissioning and start up. The SR20.6 billion (US$ 5.5 billion) project remains within



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budget and, once fully operational, will produce 3 million tons per year of Di-Ammonium Phosphate fertilizer, representing around 10% of the world’s current demand. “The MPC team’s achievement in delivering this complex project so close to the scheduled start up date and within budget is remarkable, especially given the challenging conditions prevailing during the world economic crisis.” commented Dr Abdullah Dabbagh, President & CEO of Ma>aden. “The team is delivering this world scale integrated mine and processing complex with an emphasis on safety, to a tight deadline and with no cost overrun. Ma’aden’s management recognises their efforts and those of our partners who are helping to deliver this project. The MPC operation will be the largest fully integrated phosphate fertilizer project in the world and enhance the position of the Kingdom among the world leaders in the phos-

phate industry.” MPC is owned 70 % by Ma’aden and 30% by SABIC. Ma’aden was established to facilitate the development of Saudi Arabia’s non-petroleum mineral resources and to diversify the Kingdom’s economy away from the petroleum and petrochemical sectors. Ma’aden is engaged in the development, advancement and improvement of all aspects of the mineral industry, mineral products and by-products and related industries in Saudi Arabia. Ma’aden has progressed towards realizing its vision of building a world class mineral enterprise and its mission of being a profitable, publicly owned, international mining company, while maintaining the utmost concern for human resources, health, safety, environmental and social issues.

Uhde – Engineering with ideas. The key to our success is the creativity and resourcefulness of our employees. And it is this that keeps turning major challenges into solutions that are not only brilliant and innovative, but often set the standard for the entire engineering sector.


Misr Fertilizers Production Company


In the framework of Egypt’s national investment progress plans and in line with the petroleum sector development plan, Misr Fertilizers Production Company (MOPCO) has vowed to profoundly and insistently contribute to the successful implementation of such national plans purposefully to best serve both our country and our nation.

the advancement and expansion of the fertiliser segment. This is all part of His Excellency Sameh Fahmy’s vision and leadership. His Excellency Minister Fahmy believes that the fertiliser segment is one of the most promising & profitable channels that add value to our natural gas resources and to the petroleum sector as a whole.

The Ministry of Petroleum is strategically intentional about

MOPCO has put together effort and investments in several



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production and expansion activities that equipped it to be a key player in the Egyptian Petroleum Sector and a role model in this industry’s realm amongst the Middle East & Africa region. MOPCO is currently one of the leading producers of urea in the country to-date with an annual production capacity of 635,000 tonnes. As the global demand for fertiliser continues to reach new heights and

to address future demands, MOPCO is aiming to grow responsibly by adding two further trains in Damietta to triple production capacity to 2 million tonnes per year by 2012. MOPCO also produces ammonia and nitrogen next to its urea core business. MOPCO’s goal is to have the first new train up and running by March and the second by June this year. Chemist



MOPCO Chairman & CEO, stated that the local economic environment will witness a booming growth upon the establishment of this fertilizers world scale expansion edifice, and that MOPCO will never cease to partake in actively engaging and exploring lucrative opportunities for further expansion and development. To shed light on our establishment in Egypt, we have a great location inside the Public Free Zone of the Governorate of Damietta, highly skilled workforce and a world scale environment-friendly facility that is dedicated exclusively to fertiliser production. With the company’s alluded to expansion, we are also hiring more workers, many of whom are now in the process of being trained. We currently have a

workforce of nearly 700 employees, made up almost entirely of Egyptians, and mostly Damiettans. MOPCO is committed to protect the environment it is operating in and the surrounding areas through the compliance to local and international environmental standards, laws, governing regulations and worldwide technologically advanced measures. An environmental monitoring station will be installed to ensure the continuous application of rigorous environmental quality control standards. MOPCO will always strive to deliver highest services standards and optimum quality products, and continue to constantly raise the bar and build a sustainable future.


Au capital social de 17.697.000.000 DA RC 0363222 B01 - NIF 000123036322209

FERTIAL “The Algerian Fertilizer company� is the outcome of a partnership concluded in August 2005 between the Algerian Group ASMIDAL and the Spanish Group GRUPO VILLAR MIR. Production facilities installed in Annaba and Arzew industrial sites have an annual production capacity of 900 000 tons of Ammonia, 580 000 tons of ammonium and calcium nitrate, 240 000 of UAN32%, 3330 000 of complex fertilizes and 240 000 tons of SSP 18%. A part of this production is reused for the production of a large range of nitrogenous and phosphatic fertilizers. After investing more than 200 million US Dollars which gave way to revamp the facilities, FERTIAL has won consider12


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able market shares either in the local market and the export one. Its exports, that reach 74% of its production, rank FERTIAL as a leader in the Mediterranean Sea. FERTIAL is not only keeping the leading pack position in the export market, but also in the local market. Indeed it is deemed to be a leading producer and distributor of fertilizers. Hence; we are meeting the entire Algerian Agricultural requirements as far as this material is concerned.

Our utmost priority is to achieve zero accidents and ensure an industrial safety of the neighbouring community both in Annaba and in Arzew.

In our industrial and Human Resources strategy, we put safety first. Training of our collaborators; quality and respect of environment are also given a tremendous importance.

All this will not be achieved unless a continuous training is provided, namely, in safety, quality, and environment. We are in touch with the most prestigious enterprises, local and foreign schools and

As far as quality and environment are concerned, we are busy with implementing ISO 9001 and 14001, but this is not our ultimate goal. We are forecasting the prestigious certification of OHSAS 18001 (Health and Safety) by the year 2011. Once again, we will not be satisfied unless we reach an absolute quality control.

collaborators; the later will be called “High Flyer Program”. FERTIAL would like to be a citizen company and collaborates with a myriad of institutions and sports clubs in order to be a point in the neighbouring communities’ favour.

universities, to enable us carrying out this type of training “in company training” . In the same regard, we are intending to launch a special training program for our high potential

Our commercial network interweaving the country and our distribution circuit are meant for meeting any customer expectation. Beyond that, we are providing solutions and advise to our farmers through our ultra modern agronomic laboratory for soil, water and vegetables testing.

plan, FERTIAL will be – on a midterm- a privileged company on a national and Mediterranean scale. With a large product range, a recently refurbished production facility and a recognized know how, FERTIAL has the means and the ambition to play the very leading roles…

Referring to its new strategic



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A fruitful partnership. To help secure future food supplies, Uhde‘s engineers develop large-scale plants for the fertiliser industry. As a leading EPC contractor, we also have a proprietary portfolio of technologies. And we network intelligently within the Uhde group based on our business philosophy Engineering with ideas.


Press Release

SABIC Awarded Level 1 Gold System Status Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) has been awarded the prestigious Level 1 Gold System Status of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Services (AQIS) in recognition of its effective Fertilizer industry best practice systems.

that our suppliers and contractors are aware of their responsibilities in this regard. Our employees are to be congratulated for their strict adherence to all issues related to health and hygiene.”

To assist the fertilizer industry comply with Australia’s strict AQIS is a regulatory import requirements, body responsible for AQIS and the Fertilizreducing the risk of er Industry Federation exotic pests or diseases of Australia (FIFA) entering Australia that Mr. Fahad Al-Sheaibi have developed a set may harm the country’s of standards to streamenvironment, agricultural and line quarantine inspection prohorticultural industries. cesses and requirements. To acknowledge industry best practice Commenting on the Austrasystems, AQIS has launched the lian honor, Fahad Al-Sheaibi, new Level 1 Gold System Status Executive Vice President, Fertilfor companies that are assessed by izers SBU, said, “We are indeed AQIS as meeting the new criteria. proud of this award. SABIC has Companies that achieve the Level always been giving top priority to 1 Gold System Status receive forsafety and health. We even ensure Haldor Topsøe has developed a new sulphuric acid catalyst for operation in converted strong gases. Activity leap The catalyst – designated VK-701 LEAP5™ – has shown significant activity advantages compared to existing potassium and caesiumpromoted catalysts. The high activity offered by VK-701 LEAP5™ presents new conversion opportunities for any single- and double-absorption plants. “We are pleased to present our clients with a new and improved catalyst, which will reduce their SO2 emissions significantly,” says Lene Hansen, General Man-

mal recognition of their best practice systems and processes which will be audited by AQIS. SABIC produces fertilizers at three of its manufacturing affiliates – Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Company (SAFCO), Al-Jubail Fertilizer Company (Al-BAYRONI) and National Chemical Fertilizer Company (IBN ALBAYTAR).

Topsøe launches new sulphuric acid catalyst ager, Marketing Sulphuric Acid. The V5+ oxidation state The catalyst has been developed in-house by Topsøe’s researchers, and the new VK-701 LEAP5™ exhibits a major leap in activity based on physical and chemical changes enhancing the amount of the active vanadium in oxidation state V5+. Contact Lene Hansen, General Manager, Marketing Sulphuric Acid, Catalyst Division

Tel. +45 4527 8508, e-mail: lh@ Haldor Topsøe is market leading in the field of heterogeneous catalysis. We supply catalysts and technologies for the refining industry, for cleaning power industry flue gases and for sustainable energy processes. In 2009 the turnover totalled 572 million Euro generated by our 2.100 employees around the world. Read more at



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Press Release

Haldor Topsøe and Linde supply technology for POSCO’s SNG plant in South Korea First South Korean synthetic natural gas (SNG) plant Plant performance will set the standard for future SNG plants Haldor Topsøe A/S, a market leading provider of integrated catalyst solutions, and the technology group The Linde Group today announced they have been selected as technology suppliers for the syngas treatment and methanation unit of POSCO’s synthetic natural gas (SNG) plant. The new plant will be erected in Gwangyang, South Korea, producing SNG from coal and/or petcoke. The POSCO SNG plant, with a nominal capacity of 500,000 metric tons per year (MTPY) of pipeline-ready SNG, will be brought into operation by end of 2013. It will be the first SNG plant in South Korea. The Linde Group’s Engineering Division will supply the full technology chain of syngas treatment and conditioning, including sour shift, acid gas removal – featuring Linde Rectisol® – and sulphur recovery. Haldor Topsøe will supply the complete methanation technology, TREMP™, including conditioning of the product gas, to deliver SNG with a methane purity in excess of 98%. Diversification of energy resources “Given the strategic significance of the POSCO SNG project for the diversification of the energy supply in South Korea, the selection of TREMP™ for POSCO SNG is a milestone of utmost importance for the implementation of our SNG technology in the worldwide market. We are proud of this success, which is the result of a strong and effective collaborative effort among all parties involved,” said Niels Kegel Sørensen, CEO of Haldor Topsøe A/S.



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Ground-breaking project “As a world leading gases and engineering company we are proud to participate in this groundbreaking project to produce synthetic natural gas from coal,” said Dr Aldo Belloni, Member of the Executive Board of The Linde Group. “The SNG technology offers benefits in the conversion of energy, especially in coal-rich regions. Our technical solutions for syngas treatment are part of our comprehensive engineering expertise in the field of alternative fuel generation.” State-of-the-art plant The project is owned by POSCO of South Korea, one of the largest steel producers in the world, and is executed by POSCO Engineering and Construction, a premier and global general construction and engineering company. The plant, which will feature ConocoPhillips’ E-gas gasification technology, will be adjacent to the steel works of Gwangyang, where site preparation is already initiated. “With the selection of Linde and Topsøe, the POSCO SNG plant has acquired a state-of-the-art technology, the performance of which will set the standard for future SNG plants worldwide,” said Changdae Byun, SNG Project Director of POSCO, at the signature ceremony at POSCO Center in Seoul. Contact Dr. Thomas Hagn, Technical Communications, The Linde Group tel. +49 89 35757-1323, e-mail : Dr. Roberta Cenni, New-Business Development Manager, Haldor Topsøe A/S

tel. +45 4527 2760, e-mail: roc@ Mr. Chanmyung Seok, Coal Gasification Project Section Manager. POSCO tel. +82 2 3457 1304, email: Companies’ information About POSCO POSCO is one the largest steel producers in the world. POSCO had approximately 30,000 employees worldwide and US$31.6 billion of revenues in 2009. For more information, go to POSCO online at http://www.posco. com About The Linde Group The Linde Group is a world leading gases and engineering company with almost 48,000 employees working in more than 100 countries worldwide. In the 2009 financial year it achieved sales of EUR 11.2 bn. The strategy of The Linde Group is geared towards sustainable earnings-based growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services. Linde acts responsibly towards its shareholders, business partners, employees, society and the environment – in every one of its business areas, regions and locations across the globe. Linde is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development. For more information, see The Linde Group online at http://www.

GPIC Wins Outstanding Corporate Award for GCC Job Localisation

Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (GPIC) has won a major corporate award in recognition of its efforts in the GCC localization of jobs. The Company was honoured at a ceremony held on the sidelines of the GCC Labour and Social Affairs Ministers’ meeting which was concluded in the State of Kuwait on Monday 1st November, 2010. The award is designed to encourage and motivate private sector firms and companies to increase the percentage of job localization given the pivotal role played by the private sector in creating suitable jobs for national manpower, empowering citizens in the job market and reducing dependence upon expatriates. The recognition is also aimed at encouraging businesses to double their efforts in the training and development of national skills and giving support to government initiatives for the employment of national manpower. Ultimately such combined efforts will eliminate unemployment as a strategic goal that requires all the concerted efforts and contributions. The plan envisages making use of the available expertise for the benefit of all GCC states in instilling the spirit of Gulf citizenship and facilitating the movement of qualified national manpower



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within the GCC states. On this occasion, Mr. Abdul Rahman Jawahery, GPIC General Manager conveyed his congratulations to HE Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, Advisor to His Highness the Prime Minister for Industrial and Oil Affairs, Board members, executive management and all the Company’s employees for winning this prestigious award. He praised the efforts being made to maintain the current level of Bahrainisation of jobs. He called for the preservation of this national approach pursued by the Company enabling it to win this outstanding GCC recognition. Meanwhile, Mr. Jawahery expressed his sincere thanks to HE Board Chairman and members of the Board for their continuous encouragement of the various training programmes designed to develop the Company’s national workforce. This is part of the concern with the upgrading of human resources and in appreciation of the role they play in the Company’s success. GPIC General Manager further said: “We are very proud of this significant Gulf achievement and this prestigious award since concern with human resources is at the top of the Company’s list of priorities.” He attributed this ex-

cellence in the employment and qualification of local manpower to the outstanding relationships among the Board of Directors, executive management and the Workers Trade Union’s Board of Directors. He noted that faith in local manpower was considerable as the level of Bahrainisation in the Company amounts to around 95% while the entire executive management is made up of Bahrainis only. He pointed out that the best strategy pursued by GPIC was investment in local manpower. Mr. Jawahery praised the continuous efforts of the Labour Ministry and the close follow up by Dr. Majeed bin Mohsin Al Alawi, Minister of Labour for the good of the workers which had a positive impact upon the results realized by the Company in the employment and qualification of national workers. The General Manager said the Company’s co-operation with the Ministry has achieved good results by creating jobs for unemployed graduates, hence the Company has been able to win numerous local and international awards in the areas of manpower training, qualification, concern with the environment, occupational safety, community service and voluntary activities.


ICIS training Fertilizers - an in-depth introduction Hammersmith, London 22nd - 23rd March 2011,

Welcome to ICIS training. We are delighted to offer the following course in London ICIS is pleased to announce the dates of its first Fertilizer Training Workshop, which will be held in London at the Novotel Hotel, Hammersmith 22-23 March 2011. The workshop will be run by Antonella Harrison, the Head of ICIS fertilizer division, together with her team of analysts. The workshop is structured in a way that it is suitable for new recruits to the industry as well as non-fertilizer professionals. The seminar is aimed at people who recently joined the fertilizer commercial divisions of producing, importing, trading, shipping, construction and financial companies and any companies which work in association or support to the fertilizer industry. It will also address the needs of people who work in other divisions/ functions of the companies (technical, production, accounting, administrative, etc) but have/want/need to understand the basics of the business their company is involved in. Senior managers who move from other divisions or return to the fertilizer division after a period of absence will also benefit from refreshing their knowledge about the basics of the fertilizer industry. The workshop is designed to train delegates on the basic concepts of the fertilizer market and its trade. It will provide delegates with a professional and unique forum in the industry to learn the key fundamentals that drive the fertilizer business and the key concepts that will help them start working effectively in the industry.

Stamicarbon, the licensing and IP Center of Maire Tecnimont S.p.A., has signed a license agreement with Tierra del Fuego Energia Y Quimica S.A., an Argentina based company controlled by shareholders from China. The agreement concerns a urea synthesis plant and a urea granulation plant with a capacity of 2,700 mtpd to be built in southern Argentina. The urea synthesis plant will use the Stamicarbon Avancore® technology, which was introduced in 2008. Taking full advantage of the benefits of utilizing Safurex® stainless steel in the high-pressure synthesis section, the Avancore® technology, which combines the benefits of all Stamicarbon’s earlier proven innovations, features zero oxygen intake, minimum equipment and minimum plant height. The granulation plant with a single line capacity of 2,700 mtpd comprises the latest innovations in Stamicarbon granulation technology. Stamicarbon has already licensed 16 grass root granulation plants with capacities between 1,200 and 3,600 mtpd. As of today, 8 granulation plants are in operation, while 8 more are under construction. Stamicarbon will deliver the PDP (“Process Design Package”), the proprietary HP equipment, and associated services for both the synthesis and the granulation plant. The plants will be built by China Chengda Engineering Co., Ltd of China. Start up is planned in 2012. The plants will be located in the proximity of the city Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego. Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago of the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. More information on the Avancore® process can be found on: Stamicarbon, the licensing and IP Center of Maire Tecnimont, is the

global market leader in licensing of urea technology and services with more than 50% market share in synthesis and 35% market share in urea granulation technology. Stamicarbon has over 60 years experience in licensing its urea technology, delivering optimum environmental performance, safety, reliability and productivity, which together ensure maximized returns on capital invested. Around the world, over 240 urea plants use Stamicarbon technology, while the Company has completed over 90 plant revamps, including those utilizing other technologies. Stamicarbon operates on an open platform and its technologies are available through licensed contractors. Since 1947, Stamicarbon has been the world’s leading authority and innovator in the field of urea, in close cooperation with research institutes, suppliers and customers. Latest innovative achievements include: AVANCORE® urea process, Safurex® stainless-steel material, Urea Granulation Technology, Mega Plant Technology and Urea 2000plus™ Technology. Stamicarbon is headquartered in Sittard (The Netherlands), and maintains offices in Beijing (China) and Moscow (Russia). For more Maire Tecnimont SpA Maire Tecnimont S.p.A. is the parent company of an Engineering & Construction International industrial group which operates in three sectors: Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals, Power, Civil Engineering & Infrastructure. Today, the Group, quoted on the Milan Bourse, is present in approximately 30 Countries, currently controls over 40 operative companies and can rely on a workforce of about 5,100 employees, of which more than half are located abroad. At 31 December 2009, the Group reported Revenues of €2,164 million and Net income, after minorities, of €77 million.



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FAI Annual Seminar Delhi – 29/11 – 1/12/2010 Under the theme “Reforms in Fertilizer Sector” the FAI Annual Seminar 2010 took place from Nov. 29th to Dec. 1st 2010 in New Delhi. As per Mr. Satish Ghander FAI Director General “the year 2010 has been a momentous year for the Indian fertilizer industry. The year witnessed significant progress in the reform process in the fertilizer sector. The Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) scheme was introduced for phosphatic and potassic (P&K) fertilizers w.e.f. 1st April, 2010. This is the first major step and we hope that the reform process will lead to many more such steps during coming months. The Seminar included four sessions broadly dealing with policy reforms, production technology,

plant nutrition and soil health, and marketing and distribution of fertilizers. The main topics were: Emerging Policies in the Progress of Reforms. Nutrient Management for Higher Productivity. Enhancing Production and Reliability of Fertilizer Plants. Fertilizer Marketing in Context of Reforms. India is the second largest con-

sumer and third largest producer of fertilizers in the world. There was a total consumption of about 53 million tones of fertilizers products during 2009 – 2010. India is also the largest importer of raw materials, intermediates and finished fertilizer products in the world. Fertilizers will continue to play a dominant role in the growth of Indian agriculture.

36th IFA Enlarged Council Meeting Delhi – 02 – 04/12/2010

The 36th IFA Enlarged Council Meeting was held in New Delhi from 2 to 4 Dec. 2010. Dr. Shafik Ashkar, AFA Secretary General attended the meeting which gathered Senior Executives of IFA member companies together with the members of governing Council, of the Executive and Finance Committees and representatives of various affiliated associations. A Keynote address by Mr. T. Nanda Kumar on “Soil nutrient management for agriculture and

food security”. The Panel discussions covered 4 topics: energy, nitrogen, water, subsidies The IFA Secretariat presentations were “ShortTerm prospects for world agriculture and fertilizer demand: 2019/10-2011/12 made by IFA Director, Agriculture Service and “Global Fertilizer Supply and Trade” 2010 – 2011” by IFA Director, Production & International Trade Service.



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2011 AFA Events

January – February 2011

31 January 2011, Cairo, Egypt -Technical Committee Meeting (Restricted) -HSE Committee Meeting (Restricted) -Economic Committee Meeting (Restricted)

2011 Calendar

1 – 3 February 2011, Cairo, Egypt - 17th AFA Int’l. Annual Fertilizers Forum & Exhibition 2 February 2011. Cairo, Egypt - 89th AFA Board of Directors Meeting May 2011 5 – 7 May 2011 Manama, Bahrain - Technical Training Workshop (Registration opens in March 2011) June – July 2011 2 9 June 2011 -Technical Committee Meeting (Restricted for AFA Members) -HSE Committee Meeting (Restricted for AFA Members) -Economic Committee Meeting (Restricted for AFA Members) 30 June – 2 July 2011, - 24th AFA Int’l. Technical Fertilizers Conference & Exhibition 1 July 2011. - 90th AFA Board of Directors Meeting 1 July 2011. - 36th AFA General Assembly Meeting   November 2011 22 – 24 November 2011, Amman, Jordan - Training Workshop (Registration opens in Sept. 2011)   24 November 2011, Amman, Jordan - 91 AFA Board of Directors Meeting



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Non-AFA events 24 - 26 January 2011, Lima, Peru - Fertilizer Latino Americano CRU Events & FMB Group 21 - 24 February 2011, Dusseldorf, Germany Nitrogen + Syngas 2011 CRU Events 20 - 25 February 2011, Kunming, China Beneficiation of Phosphates VI Florida Institute of Phosphate Research 3 - 6 March 2011, Mersin, Turkey MERSIN 6th International Agriculture and Horticulture Fair Turkey’s Agriculture, Greenhouse and Fertilizer Center 9 - 11 March 2011, Marrakech, Morocco 2011 FMB Africa Fertilizer Conference & Exhibition FMB Group Ltd. 30 March - 1 April 2011, Beijing, China 2011 FMB Asia Fertilizer Conference & Exhibition FMB Group Ltd. 11 - 14 April 2011, New York, USA TSI’s Sulphur World Symposium 2011 The Sulphur Institute (TSI) 22 - 24 June 2011, Odessa, Ukraine 2011 FMB East Europe Fertilizer Conference & Exhibition FMB Group Ltd. 7 - 8 July 2011, Beijing China China International Water-soluble Fertilizer Conference & Exhibition China National Chemical Information Center

Studies & Researches OHIO/NORTH AMERICA

Temporal Variability of Crop Response to Fertilizer By Robert Mullen, Greg LaBarge, and Keith Diedrick

Owing to the weather, crops respond differently to fertilizers from one year to the next. Weather controls processes of nutrient supply and loss from the soil, and crop nutrient demand. Improvement of nutrient use efficiency requires systems that take into account the influence of weather on these processes.

Visual response of corn to N at the Northwest Research Station near Custar, Ohio, in July 2008. Plot at left received 240 lb N/A, plot at right received no N.

Better Crops/Vol. 94 (2010, No. 3)

Abbreviations and notes: N = nitrogen; K = potassium.

10 24

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Yield, bu/A

Check yield

Max yield















AONR, lb/A


anaging nutrient inputs for crop production can be a difficult activity when one considers all of the factors affecting nutrient supply from the soil and nutrient demand of the crop. Most agronomists can easily discern spatial patterns in these factors across a landscape, but addressing the issue of temporal fluctuations is a challenge. The goal of this article is to provide some insight into how temporal fluctuations occur from the perspective of nutrient supply and demand. For soil-mobile nutrients like N, what dictates how much will be required? The factors that control crop response to N can be grouped into three categories: 1) from the supply side, how much N will the soil render plant-available (mineralization), 2) how much will be lost (leaching, denitrification), and 3) from the demand side, how much corn could be produced. While these are easily identified factors, they are quite difficult to quantify or predict precisely. Mineralization rate is a function of the type of organic matter and the environmental conditions that persist throughout the growing season. Warm, moist conditions are likely to release more N than cool, dry soil conditions. The amount of N lost by denitrification and/or leaching is a function of precipitation patterns, soil drainage, air temperature, and availability of mineralizable carbon. Attainable yield within a growing season is a function of emergence, competition, and the presence or absence of stress. What is the one constant across the supply side of nutrients from soil, and subsequent demand of nutrients by plants? Variability in weather. Ohio State University has been conducting a study evaluating corn grain yield response to sidedress urea-ammonium nitrate (UAN) in a corn/soybean rotation since 1998. The study evaluates corn response across five N rates: 40, 60, 120, 180, and 200 lb/A prior to 2006 and 0, 60, 120, 180, and 200 lb/A

0 1998













Figure 1. Maximum and check grain yields at the Northwest Research Station near Hoytville, Ohio, and the corresponding agronomic optimum N rates (AONR) necessary to achieve those yield levels for corn following soybean, 1998-2009. since. Each year, N response is modeled using a quadraticplateau regression equation that allows us to determine the agronomic optimum N rate (AONR). The AONR is the lowest rate of N that provides maximum grain yield. As illustrated in Figure 1, the maximum attainable yield changes every year as does the amount of fertilizer N required for achieving that yield. Temporal fluctuations result in different optimum N rates at the same experimental location within the same rotation. Traditional N recommendations have been based upon yield potential with the assumption that higher achievable yields require additional N to achieve those yields. We have learned that higher achievable yields do not necessarily translate into higher N needs (Sawyer et al., 2006). Why do we frequently find no direct relationship between yield and optimum N rates in fields typical of the U.S. Corn

Yield, bu/A

Belt? Mineralization of soil organic matter has the capacity to supply a large amount of N, precluding the need for supplemental fertilizer N. Additionally, if the loss potential of the growing environment is low, less fertilizer N would be required. Thus, from the supply side, the soil itself may supply enough to satisfy most of the plant’s N needs, and the N supplied is less likely to be lost. Plant demand may also be low if corn productivity was adversely affected by the presence of some stress (most likely related to weather). Taking 2004 and 2005 from Figure 1 to illustrate the concept of temporal variability in fertilizer N requirement, notice that the attainable yield is similar between years (~190 Foliar application of a Mn solution by Keith Diedrick at the Northwest Research Station in Ohio. bu/A), but the amount of fertilizer N required to achieve that yield level is completely difNo Mn Foliar Mn ferent. What was different was the yield with a lower rate of N 70 fertilization. The check treatment (treatment actually received a 65 40 lb N/A with the starter) yielded 190 and 125 bu/A in 2004 a a b 60 and 2005, respectively. The decreased N requirement in 2004 was unlikely the result of lower loss potential, as the amount of 55 rainfall that fell between May 1 and August 1 was 5 in. higher a a 50 than in 2005. Thus, it would appear that much more N was 45 mineralized in 2004 than in 2005. While N fertilization lends itself quite well to a discussion 40 on temporal variability, soil-immobile nutrients may also be 2007 2008 2009 influenced. Micronutrient nutrition provides another opportuYear nity to discuss temporal trends in nutrient supply and demand. Figure 2. Response of soybeans to foliar-applied Mn at the NorthTake manganese (Mn) nutrition of soybean as an example. west Research Station near Hoytville, Ohio, 2007-2009. Multiple fields in north-central Ohio can exhibit Mn deficiency Bars with different letters above them differ significantly symptoms, but it does not occur every year. In fact, sometimes at the 0.05 probability level. it is not visible for much of the growing season and then suddenly it becomes visible in pockets across the field. Research likely if soils release adequate K for crop nutritional demands. at Ohio State University has demonstrated that response to Temporal variability in nutrient need is strongly affected foliar Mn can be agronomically and economically important, by weather and its impact on soil nutrient supply and plant but it does depend upon the year (Figure 2). nutrient demand. These temporal trends elucidate the need for When soils dry, available Mn is oxidized to form manganese tools to monitor plant nutrient demand and soil nutrient supply oxide, an insoluble compound. Thus, Mn is rendered unavailsimultaneously. Plant tissue analysis, in-season soil sampling, able to the plant. Application of foliar Mn under these condiand the use of newer technologies (remote sensing) will likely tions can result in positive agronomic and economic benefits play increasingly larger roles in making nutrient decisions. BC (2007 season in Figure 2). Severe drought stress observed in 2008 likely precluded the need for Mn as a result of decreased Dr. Mullen is Assistant Prof./Extension Soil Fertility Specialist, yield potential (decreased demand). Lack of drought stress in OARDC-SENR, located at Wooster, Ohio; e-mail: Mr. LaBarge is Extension Educator, Fulton County, Ohio State Univer2009 resulted in adequate Mn availability from the soil and sity Extension. Mr. Diedrick is Soil Fertility Research Associate, School thus no response to a foliar application (increased supply). of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University. Other nutrients can be subject to a similar phenomenon. Potassium stress is more prevalent in dry years in the eastern References Corn Belt, especially on soils derived from 2:1 clays that can Sawyer, J., E. Nafziger, G. Randall, L. Bundy, G. Rehm, and B. Joern. 2006. occlude K as soils dry. Conversely, in years with wetting/drying Concepts and rationale for regional N rate guidelines for corn. Iowa State University Extension PM 2015, Ames, IA. cycles, crop response to applied K may be smaller and less



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Better Crops/Vol. 94 (2010, No. 3)

Source: Better Crops (IPNI) - 2010 Number 3


Framing the Best Practices in Granulation Operation Summary Weathering the turbulence in the Granulation Section is very crucial to prevent loss of production in the Urea Granulation Plants. The short running cycle of the Granulation Process results in notable direct and indirect financial losses that include maintenance and operating costs. The partial load during Granulator washing activity also often amounts to disturbances to the well aligned smooth performance of the Urea Synthesis Section.


Abdulmonem Alnajar Urea Plant Superintendent E-mail: GPIC 窶適ingdom of Bahrain

ambient conditions were favourable in terms of air temperature and relative humidity.

UFT Granulation Process: The Granulator is a big empty chamber consisting of six compartments that contain a fluidized layer of Urea particles. The first three compartments are injection zones and the last three compartments are for conditioning, polishing and cooling. The Granulator comprises a perforated plate, lower casing, injection headers and upper casing.

The purpose of this article is to provide the reader with ready reference on key elements of Granulation Operations. The article basically outlines the information on causes and general solutions to process problems. The article could also be useful for framing in the application of best practices in the Granulation Process.

Background Information of Urea Plant GPIC is a petrochemical complex in Bahrain producing Ammonia, Methanol and Granular Urea. The complex also comprises large bulk storage and wharf facilities for handling the final products. In GPIC ,the Urea and Granulation Unit is designed to produce 1700 MTPD Granular Urea .The Urea Synthesis Process is based on Ammonia Stripping Process from Snamprogetti , Italy whereas the Granulation Section is based on Hydro Fertilizer Technology ( presently known as UFT Technology). The plant was successfully commissioned in January 1998. The Plant has excellent records in terms of capacity utilization and onstream factors. The newly commissioned Omega Bond Bimetallic Stripper achieved a remarkable milestone by producing above 110% of the rated capacity on many occasions. So far the Urea plant has registered the best ever production of 2020 MT after successful completion of the Annual Turnaround in March 2010. The Plant also has a record of uninterrupted continuous daily production for 941 days. The superior performance of the Synthesis Section is aptly supported by the Granulation Section. We have successfully achieved a maximum run of 80 days when



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UFT Granulation Process : Typical Flow Diagram

The Urea Solution containing 96 % w/w concentration at temperature if 130~132 oC, contains a prescribed concentration of anti-caking agent, UF-85. The solution is finely pulverized by means of atomization air. Fluidization air delivered in the lower casing, evenly distributed by the perforated plate, suspends the solid in upper casing, and is exhausted at the top of the Granulator. The exhaust air laden with Urea dust is then subjected to treatment in the Granulator Scrubber. The product discharged from the Granulator is extracted and flows by gravity to the first fluid bed cooler and thereafter is taken up to the screening section by bucket elevator. In the Screening Section the Urea granules are separated into three fractions. The undersize fraction is recycled directly into the Granulator and the oversize fraction is recycled after crushing onto the Granulator as a seed or nucleus. The on-size stream passes through the final bed cooler and is cooled down with the help of conditioned air to ~ 42 oC and then transported to product storage.

Operating Experience of Granulation Section:

The Granulation Unit of GPIC, while operating at its full load capacity, has been excellent in terms of efficiency, reliability and sustainability. On many occasions, the Unit has achieved very successful sustained operation of more than 60 days. This is considered to be the best achievable stable run in granulation operating experience. However, the operation is always more critical when humid air quality and summer ambient conditions are prevailing. Further, higher plant load and unscheduled interruptions also upset the cycle. Often such circumstances lead to very short run of less than two weeks (14 -16 washing per year) refer to the attached graphs.

top roof of the Granulator that reduces the Fluidization Air Flow suddenly. The deposition is more in summer due to more generation of dust during summer. Some of the many probable reasons for this are: 1. Increased moisture content in the Granulator feed solution due to poor vacuum condition in upstream section due to higher Fresh Cooling Water temperature. 2. Reduced Air flows from Fluidization & Atomizing air blowers due to higher ambient temperature & higher Humidity. The success of a stable and longer operating cycle of the granulation process is by and large dependent on the quality of the Urea solution fed to the process. However, dust formation within the Granulator and in the intermediate crushing process is also a dominating component in deciding a shorter operating cycle of the unit. Hence, the goals of successful operations are to minimize dust formation and to prevent scale or deposit formation. Close monitoring of operations, thorough inspection and maintenance during granulator washing schedules and during every turn –around, form the basics of good stable performance. The following are the various general practices and checks that are found to be essential in achieving longer service of the granulation process. This guideline addresses the probable causes and problems that have been identified during the entire period of the granulation experience. This guideline deals mainly with the general solution to process problems and is broadly classified as:

A) Granulation Unit : Routine Process Monitoring and Controls

Lumps Formation in Granulation Compartments

The primary reason for the inferior performance of this section is due to the falling of lumps or deposits from the

1. Correct concentration of Urea Solution > 95% w/w Concentration. The key parameters for this are good vacuum and solution temperature in Vacuum Concentration Section. 2. Regulating UF-85 feed quantity. Higher Formaldehyde concentration minimizes dust generation and deposit formation. Formaldehyde injection is regulated to achieve 0.45 to 0.60 w/w % of HCHO in the end product. 3. Maintaining steady pressure and flow of feed to maintain steady atomizing pattern of Urea Solution. The Urea solution distribution header pressure is maintained at about 1.0 ~ 1.2 barG 4. Regular changeover of Feed in duplex ( 900 mesh) filters. 5. Maintain steady Granulator vacuum pressure to -40~45 mm WC. 6. Maintain sufficient fluidization in the Granulator. In our case the flow is around + 170 knm3/hr. 7. Control Granulator Bed temperature between 109 to 112 deg C. Sudden changes in the bed temperature may yield to dislodging of deposits from top of the Granulator. 8. Maintain Granulator bed height to 700~ 750 mm (i.e.50 to 55 % of 1400 mm transmitter range) 9. Flushing of Granulator level impulse lines for accu-



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rate level indication. Partial choking of impulse is expected in normal operation. 10. Stabilize Granulator in and out Urea flow by tuning Extractors/Outlet flapper. Steady output from the Granulator maintains steady flow of recycle fines. 11. Maintain atomizing air pressure at 0.50 bar G minimum. If required replace the suction filters at regular intervals. 12. Atomisation air temperature is controlled at 132~135oC by heating. 13. Use dry fluidization air as far as possible to Granulator and First Bed Cooler. These are the locations where cooling air humidity can pass over critical humidity of granules. 14. Monitor uniform air and solid flow across the First Bed Cooler. Observe no channeling of cooling air across the Perforated Plate. 15. Achieve sufficient cooling in Granulator cooling compartments and in the First Bed Cooler. Adjust the air flow and weir height as required. 16. Monitor product quality and oversize material flow on Safety Screens and Vibrating Screen. 17. If required, monitor and adjust the feed material to each vibrating screen to maintain proper efficiency of screening. It is worth analyzing product size distribution at regular intervals for estimating screen efficiency. 18. If the operating run exceeds 30 days, consider replacement of Vibration screen frames with fresh set of screens. 19. Maintain uniform and constant feed of oversize material to each Crusher. 20. Regularly observe the Crusher outlet material for size and dust formation. If required, adjust the Crusher gaps. Ideally, the top roller gap for Urea services is about 50% of the oversize mesh size whereas 50 % of the lower size mesh is for the lower Rollers. 21. Back washing of Scrubber demister pads regularly every 8 hrs. Monitor differential pressure across the demister regularly. 22. Maintain good quality of air in final bed cooler with proper control over air chilling Unit. 23. Monitor Product analysis every 4 hrs. 24. Product is maintained at 42 oC in product storage for minimum 72 hrs before transportation. 25. Regular washing of Suction of De-dusting Fan. Cleaning de-dusting system greatly helps in minimizing the dust recycle to the granulator.

Granulator Injection Compartment Perforated Plate

2. Two to three cycles of washing activity is carried out to ensure thorough cleaning of the granulator deposits. The Granulator Perforated Plate must be free of any clogging, obstruction or deposits; so must be the walls and partition plates. 3. If required, check and replace each spray nozzle for free movement of its internal swirler. Use air at 0.5 ~ 0.7 bar G. in the solution header. 4. When the spray nozzles are identified for replacement, make sure that the tip of solution nozzle and the atomizing air cap are at same height or elevation. This is extremely important for achieving correct atomizing pattern of Urea solution. 5. Occasionally pressurise the Urea solution distribution header to 0.8 ~ 1.0 bar G by condensate and physically inspect the spray pattern of each sprayer on the header. The sprayers with hindered spray is cleared or identified for replacement with spare ones. 6. Check each solution nozzle for any leakage towards atomization air annular space. There can be solution leak due to damage in threaded portion or in Teflon sealing ring. 7. Clean and dry out Granulator lower casing. Wash water to be wiped as far as possible.

B) Process and Inspection Activities during Routine Granulator Cleaning Following is the check and Inspection procedure of main parts for Granulation Section at periodical Cleaning Activity. 1. Granulator when emptied for washing process is inspected visually for the lump deposits and scaling of perforated plates.



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A Clean Granulator : Fit to Use

8. Inspect and rectify Perforated Plate for any irregularity or deformation. 9. Clear Exhaust outlet duct from Urea lumps and deposits.

10. Clean and dry out First Bed Cooler Perforated Plate and Lower Casing. Inspect visually the Perforated Plate. It must be free of any clogging or deposits. 11. Inspect visually and replace if required buckets from the Bucket Elevator. Ensure that all buckets are in dry condition. Don’t allow any wash water to enter in the Elevator tunnel. 12. Wash and dry out vibrating extractor and vibrating screen pan and all related solid handling ducts. Ensure all transport lines are free of deposits. 13. Assemble vibrating screens with fresh spare set of Screening Frames. 14. Wash and dry out crusher hopper and rollers. Check rollers and clean them as required. 15. Ensure visually that all de-dusting lines are clean and clear. 16. Inspect periodically the start up bin material. Ensure that it is sealed from any ingress of wash water. 17. Clean and dry out Final Bed Cooler Perforated Plate and Lower Casing. Inspect visually the Perforated Plate. It must be free of any clogging or deposits. 18. Replace the suction side filter elements of Atomizing Air Blower. 19. Occasionally check the integrity of the Granulator and Cooler scrubber demisters and sprayer. 20. Allow sufficient period for drying out internal of Granulator and Coolers etc. Use heater air for drying out thoroughly. 21. Whenever Granulator washing activity is undertaken, it is of utmost importance to ensure that no foreign material remains inside any vessel. Also ensure that all PPEs’ are secured firmly. 22. Periodically observe overflow and liquid impingement level in the scrubbers. 23. Replace filter on the solution feed line. 24. Restart process of granulation must be very gradual and methodic. Filling of Granulator and lining of solution header plays a vital role in achieving long operating cycle of the granulation process. 25. Refill the start up bin to about 60% with cooled product.

C) Trouble Shooting: Short Term Programs

In summer, hot ambient condition, the feed solution concentration is invariably below the normal values. This deviation upsets greatly on fluidization air flow and Granulator Bed temperature. The Granulator Bed temperature is maintained at 108~112 oC. To achieve the best operating temperature in summer days, GPIC Urea plant has made provision of Independent Air Chilling Unit of around 500 KW capacity at the suction of Fluidization Air Fan. This Chilling unit has reduced the suction temperature by 3 oC. The Fluidization air flow also got improved due to lesser water content. The Unit was kept operational for two months of warmer ambient conditions with minor improvement in the unit’s running cycle.

D) Fit for the future : Long Term Cost Intensive Programs:

The major limitation of short running cycle of Granulation is due to constraints in dissipating heat load due to high ambient condition resulting in operating the Granulator at higher temperature . GPIC has already benchmarked key barriers for improvements. High ambient temperature which led to operate the Granulator at higher 112-113 oC increases the dust generation and build-up. GPIC is finalizing its plan to incorporate permanent cooling unit arrangement for cooling air granulator and fluidized bed coolers. Concerned licensers are in contact for developing the final set up. Latest Urea plants are opting for chiller unit at the suction of fluidization air fans. Other main reason for bad condition of the Granulator is weaker concentration of Urea solution used for granulation. This is due to poor vacuum conditions in Urea concentration section. This is undoubtedly due to high FCW temperature and higher plant load. The company also has a few debottlenecking capital plans which include the upgrading of the vacuum unit. Simultaneously, the company is liaising with the licensor to explore new atomizing spray nozzles which should improve the atomizing pattern of Urea solution in the Granulator. The new spray nozzle if found proven, would benefit in minimizing dust build-up and improve its running cycle result.

Conclusion: A major and common problem of short running cycle of Granulation Process is the difficulty in preventing the formation of dust and /or the dislodging of lumps in the Granulator. As a result of these problems, Granulator cycle life and production are reduced. The goals of successful granulation operation and inspection controls are to minimize dust formation and scale deposition in the Granulator. The routine steady operational controls help to eliminate the cause of dust generation and deposition. Periodic inspection is essential to maintain the integrity of each equipment and minimize the risk of unwanted interruption. Provisional facilities like Independent Air Chilling Units bring in the benefits of tampering high ambient temperature. The basic recommendations for effective long term program as recommended by the licensors are: To have permanent cooling arrangement “Air Chiller Unit”, which will help to operate the Granulator to a normal operating temperature during adverse ambient conditions. The other main reason the Granulator short running cycle is operating at low vacuum is due to high cooling water temperature and plant load. Enhancement of the vacuum and upgrading the capacity of Vacuum Section by changing the cooling media from FCW to SW would facilitate better and longer optimum running cycle of the Granulation Unit. 29


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Achieving excellence: culture and competence A paper by DAVID MORRIS, Chairman, NEBOSH presented at the 23rd AFA International Conference, Tunis, 29 June to July 1 2010


This paper considers the challenges organisations face as they aim to achieve excellence in health and safety performance. It discusses the importance of organisational culture, and its measurement, in motivating health and safety improvement. It points out that systematic management of staff competence underpins all aspects of health and safety improvement.


All well managed organisations recognise the importance of health and safety.

They understand that health and safety failures damage not only the wellbeing of staff, but also the profitability the company. Everyone in the Achieving excellence:of culture and competence chemical process industries, including the fertiliser A paper by David Morris, Chairman, NEBOSH to be presented at the 23 understands AFAindustry, International Conference, Tunis, 29the Junepotential to July 1 2010 for catastrophic health and safety failure, and the associated human, Summary business and environmental costs. Concepts of sysThis paper considers the challenges organisations face as they aim to tematic risk management are well understood and achieve excellence in health and safety performance. It discusses the importance of organisational its measurement, motivating applied. But areculture, theseandconcepts andintheir application health and safety improvement. It points out that systematic management of to ensure excellence in health and safety staffsufficient competence underpins all aspects of health and safety improvement. performance? Introduction rd

All well managed organisations recognise the importance of health and safety. They understand that health and safety failures damage not only the wellbeing of staff, but also the profitability of the company. Everyone in the chemical process industries, including the fertiliser industry, understands the potential for catastrophic health and safety failure, and the associated human, business and environmental costs. Concepts of systematic risk management are well understood and applied. But are these concepts and their application sufficient to ensure excellence in health and safety performance?

What is excellence?

Excellence is an elusive concept. I believe that too many people imagine it as an end-state – as a target to achieve. In their minds, health and safety excellence would be “zero accidents and ill-health”, What is excellence? or “zero events with the potential to cause harm”. Excellence is an elusive concept. I believe that too many people imagine it as Achieving outcomes these is,andofsafety course, dean end-state – as a target to achieve. Inlike their minds, health excellence wouldbut be “zero accidents andthat ill-health”, or “zero events with the sirable, I believe true excellence is about potential to cause harm”. Achieving outcomes like these is, of course, the process which these outcomes are achieved. desirable, but I believe by that true excellence is about the process by which these outcomes are achieved. The European Foundation for Quality The European Foundation Management (EFQM) suggests the following for Quality Management model: (EFQM) suggests1 the following model: 1

23rd AFA Technical Conference



Copyright David Morris 2010

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The key elements start with the enablers – leadership, people, strategy, partnerships, processes – that lead to the results (better people, satisfied customers, societal acceptance/recognition and business results) – that in turn feedback into the enablers, so resulting in a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement. They key point is that however good you are, there is always scope for being better. An excellent company never rests on its laurels; it always strives to improve further. So it should be with health and safety performance – we must always strive, systematically, to improve – no matter how good our current performance might be. Learning from our mistakes

Sadly, there are many examples of circumstances where organisations have failed to achieve excellence in risk management. It is important that we learn from such failures, and consider how best to avoid similar mistakes ourselves. Challenger Disaster – USA, January 1986 Many of you will recall the television pictures of the loss of the space shuttle “Challenger”2. Everyone who saw the pictures was appalled at the fate of the seven crew members who perished. The subsequent enquiry was

painstaking and thorough. The technical cause was established – O-rings designed to prevent gas leakage from the solid rocket booster engines failed, allowing flames to play onto, and then to rupture, the main external fuel tank, which exploded. The O-rings failed because the launch took place when the ambient temperature was too low. The rocket motor manufacturers knew that low temperatures radically increased the risk of O-ring failure. Staff at NASA ignored the manufacturer’s concerns, apparently feeling under pressure to go ahead with a very high-profile and politically important launch. NASA’s declared approach was that safety was always the first priority. The disaster showed that the reality of their culture was very different.

Chernobyl Explosion – Ukraine, 1986

Piper Alpha North Sea, Scotland, 1988

Nuclear reactor number 4 at Chernobyl exploded catastrophically. 1500 tonnes of graphite in the reactor core caught fire. Radioactive particles and debris spread across the countryside, and a radioactive plume rose several thousand feet, drifting across Europe and even reaching North America.

On 6 July 1988, fires and explosions destroyed the oil production platform Piper Alpha, killing 167 men, including two men on a rescue boat. There were only 57 survivors. Apart from this appalling human cost, the economic cost of the disaster was estimated to be £1.7 billion. There is insufficient space in this paper to detail the many failures that culminated in this disaster. There were design failures, system failures, maintenance failures, communication problems, a lack of leadership (the management team in the control room were among the early casualties) and, tellingly, some major cultural issues. It is not widely understood that two adjacent production platforms continued to pump oil to Piper Alpha even though the crews could see that Piper Alpha was ablaze. David Eves2 dryly observes “that pumping continued for so long

The plant’s managers had wanted to test that the reactor’s cooling system would continue to run safely if the electrical supply to the plant failed. To ensure the experiment was realistic, the reactor’s emergency control systems were deliberately disabled. The staff conducting the experiment were inadequately briefed; the operating manuals were inadequate; the staff were not sure how to control the reactor without using the emergency controls.

When the core temperature rose it was too late to reinstate the emergency controls. A steam explosion blew the top off the reactor, releasing radioactive fall-out estimated to have been around 30 times the amount released in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The number of people killed and injured in the initial explosion and the subsequent containment work has never been released, but we know that 67,000 people were evacuated from nearby towns, and that the town of Pripyat (previous population 50,000) remains abandoned even today.

Capsize of the Herald of Free Enterprise Belgium, 1987 On 6 March 1987, the car and passenger ferry the Herald of Free Enterprise, owned and operated by Townsend Thoresen, was leaving the Belgium port of Zeebrugge to return to its home port of Dover, in England. Its bow doors were

open and, as it picked up speed on reaching the open sea, water was scooped on board. The ferry started listing and in less than a minute had capsized onto its side, resting on a sand bank. 193 passengers and crew died. The subsequent public enquiry confirmed the immediate cause – the open bow doors – and causal/ contributory factors, including the lack of any way for the officers on the ship’s bridge to know whether the door was open or closed.

As important, it criticised “a disease of sloppiness” and negligence at every level of Townsend Thoresen. As David Eves observes2 “the root cause of the disaster was a poor safety culture that led … to a complete failure to manage a system that relied on human factors”.

in spite of being able to see the fire … may well have stemmed from the kind of culture that puts production before safety.” Texas City, USA, 2005

On 23 March 2005 a massive explosion, followed by fires, occurred at the raffinate unit of this petrochemical plant operated by the BP Group. The raffinate unit converted low octane feed into higher octane components for regular unleaded petrol. During start up, operators had wrongly allowed flammable liquid to be pumped into the splitter tower for over three hours, overfilling it 20 times higher than specified in the start-up instructions. The tower’s contents overheated, over-pressurised the plant and blew the relief valves, which vented towards temporary offices located 150 feet away. The vapour cloud exploded, killing fifteen workers and injuring many more. One of the subsequent enquiries identified five main underlying causes:

• Firstly, a working environment characterised by resistance to change and lack of trust, motivation and purpose. Rules were not followed consistently. Individuals felt disempowered from suggesting or initiating improvements.

• Secondly, process safety, operations performance and systematic risk reduction priorities had not been set. Safety lessons form other parts of the BP Group were not acted on.

• Thirdly, many changes in a complex organisation had led to a lack of clear accountabilities and poor communication. The result was workforce confusion over roles, responsibilities and priorities.

• Fourthly, poor hazard awareness and understanding of process safety, resulting in people accepting higher levels of risk.



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• Finally, poor performance management and vertical communication in the refinery meant there was no adequate early warning system about problems, and no independent means of detecting and understanding the deteriorating standards in the plant through thorough organisational audits. Loss of Nimrod MR2 XV230, Afghanistan, 2006 On 2 September 2006, RAF Nimrod XV230 suffered a catastrophic mid-air fire, leading to the total loss of the aircraft and the death of all 12 members of its crew. The RAF Board of Inquiry identified the likely fuel source and source of ignition, and identified significant errors in the Nimrod safety case. It did not assign responsibility for the accident. A subsequent review by an eminent lawyer3 reported in 2009. The review’s subtitle gives a flavour of its findings - “A failure of leadership, culture and priorities”. The 582 page report is too long for easy summary. Sufficient to say perhaps that the review criticises

• inadequate collection and analysis of safety failure data;

• poor application of formal safety assessment processes, including inadequate hazard identification and risk assessment; • staff lacking competence for the work they were assigned;

• inadequate resourcing leading to “corners being cut”; • a cultural assumption that the Nimrod was “safe”, leading to inadequate analysis of hazards/risks; • inadequate leadership;

• financial pressures and organisational changes distracting attention from vital functional values such as safety and airworthiness; and compliance with process and form-filling taking the place of sound judgement.

Culture and competence

In all these examples of significant health and safety management failures there are two common factors

• individuals (at various levels) who were either insufficiently competent to recognise hazards/risks or unable/unwilling to take positive action to prevent disaster.

• an organisational culture that either allowed or en-



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couraged inappropriate behaviour in the face of danger.

In my view there are four pillars on which organisations build their health and safety performance: • Safe plant design and construction

o getting the physical infrastructure right

• Safe operation

o getting the operational procedures right

Culture and competence

In all these examples of significant health and safety management failures • Safe maintenance there are two common factors –  individuals (at various levels) who were either insufficiently competent keeping the physical infrastructure right,action using toorecognise hazards/risks or unable/unwilling to take positive to prevent disaster. the right processes to do so  an organisational culture that either allowed or encouraged inappropriate behaviour in the face of danger.

• Safe individual behaviour

In my view there are four pillars on which organisations build their health and safety performance: o people who recognise hazards and risks, and  Safe plant design and construction to do about them. o know getting what the physical infrastructure right  Safe operation getting operational procedures right these issues helps The oway anthe organisation handles  Safe maintenance define its safety culture. o keeping the physical infrastructure right, using the right processes to do so point is that the way staff behave is proThe Safekey individual behaviour o people who recognise hazards and risks, and know what to do foundly influenced by the organisational culture about them.

around them. By understanding and acting on this

The way an organisation handles these issues helps define its safety culture. can move towards achieving health The truth, key pointwe is that the way staff behave is profoundly influenced by the and organisational culture around them. By understanding and acting on this excellence. truth, we can move towards achieving health and excellence. Jointly owned, highly  proactive, it’s how we do  things here

Figure 2: Safety  Culture Model 

Prevention is key, Safety  leadership, achieving  the right behaviours

Understanding  that HSE is the  right thing to do  It’s just about  legal  compliance  Won’t get caught,  hoping to get  away with it 

Excelling, world  class  performance

high performing,  accountabilities  set

Performing,  realisation of benefit 



Developing,  driver is  compliance

Beginning,  Bordering on  There are disregard various models  of the routes to improving health and safety culture.

Figure 2 shows how organisations progress towards excellence. On the left, Increasing chance of approaching zero harm   there is a stage where organisations are either unaware of the need to manage health and safety risk or take a deliberate decision to ignore the

There are various Copyright David Morris 2010

models of the routes to improving

health and safety culture.

Figure 2 shows how organisations progress towards excellence. On the left, there is a stage where organisations are either unaware of the need to manage health and safety risk or take a deliberate decision to ignore the issue. As organisations mature, they typically regard compliance with regulation as the principal reason for managing risk. They regard compliance as the objective to achieve, and see no merit in moving beyond this.

They then begin to see the linkages between effective health and safety risk management and production/efficiency benefits. Eventually, they recognise the key issue of effective health and safety leadership, from the top of the organisation, and the vital importance of staff engagement and consultation. Health and safety becomes seen as a routine part of “how we do things round here”. Everyone – at every level in the company - is alert to the potential for individual and/or organisational failures and feels empowered to raise and resolve any such issues. They also actively seek out opportunities for improving productivity and quality. There is much literature about the importance of health and safety culture.

Space does not permit a full analysis. Sufficient to say, perhaps, that the works of James Reason and Dominic Cooper should form part of every health and safety practitioner’s library. The key point about safety culture is to recognise that organisations can (and should) seek to understand where they are in the spectrum of progress towards excellence. There is a range of methods available to help assess an organisation’s culture. In the UK, HSE’s Health and Safety Laboratory has recently updated its measuring tool4, for example. By using the tool, organisations can bench-mark where they are against a diverse range of comparable organisations.

One key part of an organisation’s approach to health and safety is the way it assures itself that its staff are competent for their tasks. Systematic competence management systems are, in my view essential. “Competence”, as something to be actively managed, is a comparatively new part of the health and safety practitioner’s armoury of useful concepts. True, the concept of “the competent person” has been around for a long time. In the UK, the various Factories Acts (including the last, in 1961) had requirements that a “competent person” should check periodically various items of potentially dangerous plant and equipment. The legislation did not define “competent”, but it was generally understood that a person was competent for the task if they knew what they were looking for and were capable of recognising it when they saw it.

More usually issues of competence were addressed by thinking in terms of “education” and/or “training”. “Education” and “training” are really processes that can help individuals develop competence.

Neither guarantee that individuals are in fact competent.

What then, do we mean by “competence”? Clearly, competence relates to the level of an individual’s knowledge. But knowledge on its own is not competence. As well as knowledge, people need relevant skills to put their knowledge to practical use. And they also benefit from relevant experience. So at its simplest:

Competence = knowledge + skills + experience

But this equation misses important dimensions that radically influence people’s performance.

One of the better definitions of competence is in “Developing and maintaining staff competence”5. The guidance, issued by the UK’s Office of Rail Regulation, defines competence as “the ability to undertake responsibilities and to perform activities to a recognised standard on a regular basis”. This definition makes clear that whether someone is competent is, or should be, objective. If they successfully and consistently perform their task to the standards expected, then we can legitimately regard them as competent. The definition in “Developing and maintaining staff competence” points out that competence is a combination of practical and thinking skills, experience and knowledge, and may include attitudinal issues – the guidance suggests that “ a willingness to undertake work activities in accordance with agreed standards, rules and procedures” is part of the “competence” picture. Importantly, the guidance recognises that competence also depends on the context and environment in which people perform their tasks – that an organisation’s working culture is an important factor. Guidelines on competence published by The Hazards Forum6 say that, for a person to be competent they need “qualifications, experience and qualities appropriate to their duties”. These include: • such training as would ensure acquisition of the necessary knowledge of the field for the tasks which they are required to perform.

• adequate knowledge of the hazards and failures of the equipment for which they are responsible

• knowledge and understanding of the working practices used in the organisation for which they work.

• the ability to communicate effectively with their



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peers, with any staff working under their supervision, and with their supervisors.

• an appreciation of their own limitations and constraints, whether of knowledge, experience, facilities, resources, etc., and a willingness to point these out. In addition, the Hazard Forum Guidelines expect that professional engineers with responsibility for design or for supervision of operators should have: • a detailed working knowledge of all statutory provisions; approved codes of practice, other codes of practice, guidance material and other information relevant to their work; an awareness of legislation and practices, other than these, which might affect their work; and a general knowledge of working practices in other establishments of a similar type • an awareness of current developments in the field in which they work.

Competence in an organisation

I have already mentioned that the better definitions of competence acknowledge that individuals (usually) work as part of an organisation, and that an organisation’s culture, and the environment it provides for individuals, has an important bearing on their competence. Organisational (“cultural”) issues relevant to competence include: • senior management expectations

• senior managers’ and supervisors’ own competence

• systems for staff selection, both on recruitment and on changing jobs/roles within the organisation • supervisory systems

This is why we have trial periods to assess the new recruit’s attitude and performance.

Fewer organisations apply anything like the same rigour when we move people around or promote them. But an effective competence management system applies proportionate but rigorous time and effort to making sure that staff transfers and promotion don’t introduce uncontrolled risks, because of inadequate competence. Even where selection processes and all the other cultural factors support an effective competence management system, we need to take account of how people’s competence develops and changes over time. Figure 3 illustrates the point. People new to a task, or progressing to a higher level, are (or can be) unaware of what they can or cannot do – socalled “unconscious incompetence”. Soon they realise what they don’t know – they reach “conscious incompetence”. After appropriate instruction and training (and, in effective competence management systems, formal assessment) they attain “conscious competence”. As good practice becomes ingrained it becomes habitual – this is “unconscious competence”. In the Rasmussen terminology, “conscious competence” is rule-based behaviour, which adapts with experience to become skills-based unconscious competence. Humans being as they are, the happy state of conscious competence can degrade. Where

the organisational culture allows it, people adopt short cuts and develop bad habits. Even in wellrun organisations their competence may degrade through lack of practise. They lapse from the paths of virtue but are usually unaware of the fact. They have become “unconsciously incompetent”. Unless habits. in well-run organisations competence may the Even loops at Figure 3 aretheir completed, anddegrade therethrough are lack of practise. They lapse from the paths of virtue but are usually unaware regular checks of people’s competence, then the this of the fact. They have become “unconsciously incompetent”. Unless loops at Figure 3 aredangerous completed, and there of are regular checks of people’s potentially state unconscious incomcompetence, then this potentially dangerous state of unconscious petence can continue indefinitely. incompetence can continue indefinitely.

• staff appraisal and reward systems • peer group pressure

All these are important, but I believe that how we select people for particular jobs is particularly important. Most larger organisations have reasonably good systems for initial recruitment. Real thought is given to the tasks people are to be given, the knowledge and skills they need to do those tasks, and the extent to which qualifications are relevant/required. We assess people’s physical capacity to undertake the tasks. We use personality and other psychometric tests. Despite all this we sometimes get it wrong.



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Figure 3: The individual competence cycle Figure 3: The individual competence cycle

Competence and qualifications It is evident, I hope, that I do not regard competence and qualifications as being the same thing. Most of us have qualifications of one sort or another, even if it’s only a driver’s licence. Some qualifications allow us to use postnominal abbreviations – BSc, MSc, PhD etc. But we all accept that our

Competence and qualifications

It is evident, I hope, that I do not regard competence and qualifications as being the same thing. Most of us have qualifications of one sort or another, even if it’s only a driver’s licence. Some qualifications allow us to use postnominal abbreviations – BSc, MSc, PhD etc. But we all accept that our qualifications have less and less relevance to our competence as time goes by. I gained my first degree over 30 years ago, and have since made only limited use of the knowledge tested in my degree examinations. My Masters degree – in occupational health and safety - came 10 years later and, since then I have continually applied and extended the knowledge I acquired. It is by continuous application and conscious extension of the knowledge tested for a qualification that we maintain its relevance. Most reputable professional institutions recognise both the importance of qualifications and their limitations. Qualifications provide the key to the institution’s membership; continuous professional development systems ensure that members maintain their knowledge and develop their experience. So where do qualifications fit with a competence management system? On recruitment, qualifications are used to gauge candidates’ pre-existing knowledge, and can also indicate capacity in respect of certain skills. Qualifications based on written examinations of a relevant syllabus provide a particularly powerful basis for distinguishing between candidates. Once in employment, we often find that people’s motivation to benefit from their Copyright David Morris 2010 training is increased by the prospect of achieving a respected qualification; if the qualification increases the individual’s “marketability”, so much the better.

Attitudes and culture

So let us review where we are with knowledge, skills and experience. The first point is that all three are dynamic rather than static. All change over time. The changes can be for the better (increasing) or worse (decreasing). People recruited into organisations arrive with preexisting knowledge, skills and experience. Developing their competence requires us to build on these pre-existing qualities. They also arrive with preexisting attitudes and opinions, and engage in what might be called a “psychological contract” with the organisation which influences these. We ignore this

fourth dimension at our peril. Ensuring competence in respect of risk control is as much about reinforcing appropriate attitudes, and challenging inappropriate ones, as it is about knowledge, skills and experience. People’s attitudes affect every aspect of their health and safety competence. Relevant attitudinal issues include people’s willingness to: • recognise shortcomings in their current educational attainment, and/or experience and/or skills; • accept guidance from their supervisors/managers on their knowledge/skill gaps; • participate fully and positively in activities to develop their skills and/or experience; • challenge inappropriate health and safety behaviours and attitudes amongst their peers, subordinates and managers; The links between the organisation’s culture and the individual’s attitudes is vital here. New workers will quickly detect any mismatch between what the organisation says and how staff in the organisation behave. Fine words in policy documents and induction plans are quickly and too easily undermined by the real-life attitudes and behaviours of colleagues.

Competence Management Systems

Any competence management system (CMS) needs careful design, and the health and safety component of an organisation’s CMS needs to fit with the wider CMS of the organisation. Figure 4 illustrates the process for establishing and maintaining a health and safety CMS. Only in “establishing the requirements for the CMS” is there anything specifically focussed on health and safety. All the other stages of the CMS cycle are generic - they apply to all areas of competence. The key difference between a generic and a health and safety competence management system is the initial need to identify the work activities and associated risks that have the potential to affect safe operations or that otherwise affect occupational health and safety. It is important that this initial stage deals not only with routine operations, but also with risks that may arise during abnormal or degraded operations and emergencies. The challenge is to identify all the activities where people’s competence is relevant to risk control. Obviously an effective risk as-



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otherwise affect occupational health and safety. It is important that this initial stage deals not only with routine operations, but also with risks that may arise during abnormal or degraded operations and emergencies. The challenge is otherwise andcompetence safety. It isisimportant to identify affect all the occupational activities wherehealth people’s relevant tothat risk this initial sessment is the starting point, but systematic task Those at a senior level need to understand their perstage deals not only with routine operations, but also with risks that control. Obviously an effective risk assessment is the starting point, but may arise during abnormal or degraded operations and emergencies. The challenge analysis is also important. sonalis responsibilities for safety, and the importance systematic task analysis is also important. to identify all the activities where people’s competence is relevant to risk of them setting the right framework for managing control. Obviously an effective risk assessment is the starting point, but risk in their business. They need to systematic task analysis is also important.

• recognise the importance of their leadership role, by

o demonstrating exemplary safety behaviour themselves; o correcting any inappropriate safety behaviour they see among their staff • define the organisation’s health and safety expectations/targets; Figure 4: The competence management cycle

Figure 4: The competence management cycle

• ensure they regularly receive safety audit reports and accurate data about both leading and lagging safety performance indicators,

In most cases, individuals’ actions or inactions are Inonly most part cases,ofindividuals’ actions or are onlymeasures part of the spectrum of the spectrum ofinactions risk control • initiate and resource remedial action as and Figure 4: Themeasures competencewe management cycle “Swiss cheese” model of incident risk use. Reason’s wecontrol use.7 Reason’s “Swiss cheese” model of incident when audits or data show deteriorating safety causation is relevant here, though in this context I prefer the model used by causation7 is relevantactions here, or though in are thisonly context Ithe spectrum of 8 InBurton most et cases, individuals’ inactions part of al (see Figure 5). performance risk controlthe measures use. “Swiss prefer model we used byReason’s Burton et al8 cheese” model of incident 7 causation is relevant here, though in this context I prefer the model used•byhave immediate access to authoritative health Burton et al8 (see Figure(see 5). Figure 5). and safety advice. Middle managers need to understand • the organisation’s health and safety expectations, • their personal responsibilities to demonstrate exemplary safety behaviour and to correct inappropriate behaviour by their staff

Figure 5: Human defences in context

• their responsibility for managing risks on behalf of the organisation, the routine and emergency procedures that are relevant

This model recognises that “human defences”, as the authors call them, have • their role in consulting the workforce about

Figure 5: Human defences in context Figure 5: in Human in context a place both defences the lead-up to an event and in its aftermath. We need to

health and safety issues

This model recognises that “human defences”, as the authors call them, have aCopyright place both the lead-up event and in its aftermath. We need to • the importance of seeking authoritative health This inmodel recognises “human defences”, David Morris 2010 to an that

as the authors call them, have a place in both the lead-upDavid to an event and in its aftermath. We need to Copyright Morris 2010 ensure that people’s competence allows them to respond appropriately to both, but clearly the first priority is to ensure competence for those tasks where “human defences” are either the only, or the main, precaution against an incident occurring.

Health and safety competence

In my view, all workers (and all managers and directors) need some minimum competences in health and safety.



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and safety advice when they need it

Front-line supervisors must • understand the organisation’s health and safety expectations, • demonstrate exemplary safety behaviour and correct inappropriate behaviour by their staff • fully understand the hazards and risks in the work their staff do, and the precautions to be taken

• report any incidents (especially “near misses”) to their managers • encourage workers to voice any health and safety concerns. All workers must • understand the organisation’s health and safety expectations, • demonstrate exemplary safety behaviour • fully understand the hazards and risks in the work they do, and the precautions to be taken • report any incidents (especially “near misses”) • feel empowered to discuss any health and safety concerns with their supervisors. Systematic assurance that these minimum competences are met can be helped by using an appropriate framework of qualifications. A key player is many companies is the Health and Safety Manager or Safety Officer. Their role is to provide all staff – but particularly managers and directors – with authoritative advice on health and safety issues. Some countries’ health and safety law requires the appointment of such staff, particularly in larger organisations. Making sure that this person has the competence to give the effective and accurate advice is key. The NEBOSH International Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health provides the internationally recognised qualification of choice for these safety professionals. Similarly, the NEBOSH International General Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health provides a framework for ensuring that managers and supervisors have appropriate knowledge and understanding of health and safety principles and practice. Other NEBOSH qualifications deal with construction health and safety and environmental management. Our recently launched Health and Safety at Work Qualification provides a stepping stone for people wishing to work towards the higher level qualifications. We also see it benefiting organisations who are seeking to implement a basic health and safety training programme as part of their workplace culture. It helps ensure employees have an understanding of the principles of risk control, so reducing accidents and incidents.

NEBOSH has an increasing number of accredited course providers throughout the world. We currently have accredited providers based in more than 22 countries, and our examinations are taken in 81 countries. This coverage means that multi-national companies can ensure that the health and safety knowledge of their staff has been properly assessed, to an internationally recognised standard, by an independent examining body, NEBOSH. We will continue developing our range of qualifications to help organisations throughout the world manage the health and safety competence of their staff. By doing so we will help businesses and workers maximise both worker health and safety, and business profitability.

1 See 2 For a useful summary of most of the incidents referred to in this paper, and further references, see “Disasters: Learning the lessons for a safer world”, by David Eves (IOSH, 2010) 3 The Nimrod Review Charles Haddon-Cave QC ISBN 9780102962659 London, The Stationary Office, 2009 4 See launch.pdf 5 Developing and maintaining staff competence (Railway Safety Publication 1) Office of Rail Regulation (2007) London 6 Safety-related systems – Guidance for engineers (Issue 2:2002) (ISBN 0 9525 103 08) The Hazards Forum 2002, London 7 REASON J: Human error: models and management. BMJ 2000, 320:768-70 8 BURTON M J, STEPHENS P J et al Human factors guidance for selecting appropriate maintenance strategies for safety in the offshore oil and gas industry HSE Research Report 213, 2004



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Outotec GmbH - Ludwig Erhard Strasse 21 D-61440 Oberursel - Germany The technology portfolio of Outotec includes the design, construction and initial opera-tion of Sulphuric acid plants worldwide with focus on the most sufficient and profitable solutions for customers in the long run. Sulphuric acid plants based on burning sulphur produce large amounts of thermal energy and rising energy costs, shortage of cooling capacity and more stringent environmental regulations require a modern plant with best available technology and efficient heat recovery concept. In state-of-the-art production facilities, the Sulphuric acid plant is often the main single source of steam, serving different consumers such as pressure leachs, evaporators or turbo generators. Maximum recovery of heat is an essential prerequisite towards low operating cost. Each recovered Joule doubles the benefit by simultaneously increasing the amount of useable energy and decreasing the overall cooling load. For the various applications, Outotec has developed concepts of waste heat recovery not only from process gases, e.g. producing high-pressure superheated steam, but also from the sulphuric acid circuits in form of low pressure steam, hot water or other kind of utilisation to optimise the overall plant perfomance and economy.

This presentation will summarise different design options and concepts to customise Sulphuric acid plants to the specific clients needs, including Outotec’s proprietary technologies HIPROS® and the enhanced HEat RecOvery System HEROS®. Outotec’s sulphuric acid plants are designed as total concepts. They incorporate highly efficient off gas treatment facilities and most modern contact acid plants to achieve lowest sulphur dioxide emissions and specific energy consumption. Outotec as the leading sulphuric acid plant designer is able to offer vast and worldwide 23rd AFA Technical Conference



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experience for any sulphuric acid plant project. The world production of sulphuric acid had reached almost 210 million tpy in 2008. Over the past nine decades, we have built more than 600 sulphuric acid plants, the total capacity of which corresponds to over 30 percent of world production. Sulphuric acid production from elemental sulphur is a highly exothermic process. Apart from being thermally self sufficient, it can produce a considerable amount of steam. Therefore, modern sulphuric acid plants commonly serve as thermal power plants for attached industrial complexes or generate electrical power without the production of greenhouse gases via a turbine-generator set included in the plant facility.

The energy flow from a conventional sulphuric acid plant consists of two main streams as given in Fig. 2 below. About 57.5 percent of the energy intake of the plant is processed into high-pressure export steam. Reasonable steam production requires a more than moderate temperature level for heat transfer, which only the off gases of the sulphur combustion and the converter can deliver inside the


acid plant. Heat to be transferred at low temperature normally is given off as waste heat. This temperature is encountered in the absorption section of the plant, in other words as hot sulphuric acid. In the given example the waste heat refers to 39 percent of the energy intake.

The equipment needed to cool down the sulphuric acid brings about a considerable part of the whole investment costs of a sulphuric acid plant. The standard solution is a cooling water system consisting of two cooling circuits.

Both are used to transport the thermal energy from the plant to the surrounding atmosphere, for example via an open cooling tower. In the following, this design will be the standard of comparison to other four different design options in respect of production and consumption figures. All design options refer to the same sulphuric acid production capacity of 2400 t/d monohydrate H2SO4 by burning the amount of 790 tons of sulphur per day. The standard sulphuric acid plant generates about 1.2 tons of high-pressure steam (here at 60 barg and 420째C) and typically utilises 31 cubic meter of cooling water (at a temperature increase of 15 Kelvin) for each ton sulphuric acid produced. The following two design options are means to handle the waste heat in a more environmental safe way or to use the low temperature waste heat at production sites nearby.


Air Cooler

Obviously, the environmental impact of a sulphuric acid plant is decreasing the more thermal energy of the production process is transferred into a valuable product like high-pressure steam because the amount of the required cooling power decreases. Another means to lower the environmental impact is to change the design from an open cooling tower to a cooling system of air coolers. This leads to a fully closed cooling water loop without any risk of transferring acid to the surrounding water ecosystem due to the leakage of one of the installed heat exchangers. The use of air coolers is most reasonable where cooling water is limited. It may be an economic solution when water resources are not out of reach but have to be pumped over long distance or height causing significant power consumption of the cooling system. Compared to the base case where it is assumed that cooling water is easily ac-



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cessible, an acid plant with air coolers will consume more electricity, this paying for the security of a closed water system and the advantage of virtually zero cooling water consumption.




Utilisation of hot water – Phosphoric Acid (P2O5)-Concentrator

The excess of thermal energy can of course be used to provide hot water for consumption or heating purposes. The production of phosphoric acid for example is not only consuming sulphuric acid directly but is in need of thermal energy furthermore. For that reason it is advantageous to interconnect both production processes via a hot water heating circuit. Thus, transferring waste heat from the sulphuric acid plant to the concentrator of the phosphoric acid plant. The heat exchanger of the phosphoric acid concentrator works at a temperature of about 65°C to 80°C, which is a temperature range easily to be provided from the absorption section of the sulphuric acid plant. In the given example a maximum of 38 megawatts in heating power can be provided to the phosphoric acid plant. The cooling water consumption of the sulphuric acid plant is therefore decreased by 70 percent. Outotec developed and installed several technical plants based on this concept. Similar applications are the preheating of concentrates or electrolytes in hydrometallurgical processes or heating of installations alike. Other options for the usage of the “low-level” heat are heat recovery systems, which are described in the following paragraphs.

Under the acronym HEROS® a Heat Recovery System was introduced to the industry with particular emphasize on ease of operation and high safety standards and was first installed in 1989. The key element of the HEROS® is a Venturi absorber with a dedicated acid circulation system that is installed upstream of the inter absorption tower. Heat generated in this system is transformed into lowpressure steam in an especially designed boiler.

The system can easily be retrofitted in existing sulphuric acid plants as it is designed to permit the shut down of the HEROS® while the inter absorption towerremains in full operation.


The additional steam production requires an increased boiler feed water flow, which is used to produce 0.4 tons of low-pressure steam (at 7 barg and 170°C) per ton sulphuric acid produced. Thus, at the HEROS® system about 50 percent of the “lowlevel” heat is transferred into valuable steam while the cooling water consumption is cut down to the same degree.


However, as high pressure steam is more valuable referring to the possibility to use it for the produc-



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tion of electrical energy via a turbo-generator set, it would be preferable to use the low pressure steam from the HEROS® to increase the amount of high pressure steam generated in the acid plant. The basic principle is the transportation of thermal energy to the boiler feed water system, thus raising the temperature from normally 105°C up to 170°C, which is exactly the temperature of the low-pressure steam generated.

of the heat recovery system is marketed under the name HIPROS®, which refers to the fact that the pressure level of the boiler feed water system is elevated from 0.2 up to 7 barg. The alteration results in 11 percent increased production of high-pressure steam compared to the base case.


After the discussion of the design options for sulphuric acid plants and the most relevant aspects, the main production and consumption figures as well as the estimated investment costs are summarised in the table given below as a first orientation.


Base Case

Air Cooler




BFW [m³/h] (25°C)






LP Steam [t/h] (7 barg; 170°C)






Cooling water [m³/h] (25°C)






CW consumption [m³/h] (25°C)






Electricity [MW]






HP Steam [t/h] (60 barg; 420°C)






LP Steam [t/h] (7 barg; 170°C)






Heat transfer [MW] via hot water







2.400 Mhtpd Capacity


By increasing the temperature of the boiler feed water system, more highpressure steam can be generated from the thermal energy, which is taken from the combustion and converter off gases. This design




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Olive Cultivation in Italy The experiences of an Italian farmar Paolo Pratelli

Olive (Olea europaea L.), is believed to have evolved in the Syro-Iranian regions and spread west ward to shores of the Mediterranean. The Olea genus consists of more than thirty species distributed over five continents. Only Olea europaea has been domesticated while other species are generally found growing wild. It is a perennial evergreen tree propagated by cuttings or by grafting scion onto root stocks. Its oil is of the highest quality amongst edible oil. The fruit is a fleshy, elliptical drupe with a stone. When ripe, the fruit is brownish-black in colour. At maturity the fruit contains 15 to 35 per cent oil, depending upon the cultivar. The major producers are the five Mediterranean countries of Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, and Tunisia. Only two countries, Spain and Italy, alone account for almost 55 per cent of world oil production – Italy’s share is about 20 per cent.Experiments performed in Pakistan show that in certain areas olive farming can be done successfully, and areas have been identified. Italy’s experience of a smallscale farming can be of great help and guidance for Pakistan producers for edible olive oil production.

The olive tree The olive trees in the Mediterranean area produced in the past 90 per cent of the global oil production; while during the last few years the cultivation of olive has been extended to all continents, from America to Australia in a zone between 30-45 degree above and below equator. The olive is resistant plant that grows properly in both temperate area and even in semi-arid zone; however, avoiding swamp and damp zones. Unfortunately it does not resist cold below minus (-) 70C, especially if frozen nights alternate with the thaw of sunny days; in such situation the lymph channels are damaged and the plant dies. However, the olive has great resistance and the following year the sprouts will grow from the stump of dead plant that will form new trees and which, in 5-6 years, will be able to produce fruit.

The olive tree, Olea europaea, originated in the Middle East and is cultivated in all Mediterranean area from more than 4,000 years. In Greek mythology the Goddess Athena (c. 340 BCE) created the olive as her gift to humanity. The olive tree has been of paramount importance in the economy of Mediterranean countries, especially its fruit: olives, used directly as food and for extraction of oil – a product of many characteristics and a basic ingredient of the Mediterranean cuisine. It is also used in pharmaceutical industry. Further, we may not forget that olive oil was a source of light for many generations of people till the introduction of electricity. Source: Farming Outlook - June 2010



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The wood of olive tree is in great demand due to its high quality for making items of furniture.

Olive oil

The importance of the olive oil has been internationally recognized as preferential element in the modern diet due to its specific characteristics, making the olive oil unique among the other edible oils:

Quality of olive oil

The European Community has developed a strict criteria about classification of the olive oil based on the oil quality:

− Cholesterol-free quality of fat which helps lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise the “good” HDL cholesterol, in order to help prevent cardiovascular diseases and arteriosclerosis. − Mono-unsaturated fatty acids with proper balance of linoleic acid, poly-phenols, vitamin E, A, K, D and beta-carotene; the presence of such anti-oxidants elements has protective effect on the cellulose on the human body. − High digestibility: if we consider 100 the digestibility factor of olive oil, the sunflower oil has 83, peanut oil 81 and corn oil (from maize) only 36. − Improves taste and imparts the fragrance in food items. − Good resistance to high cooking temperatures without deterioration. − Extra-virgin olive oil is the only vegetable oil obtained by mechanical squeezing without manipulation, solvent assistance or use of chemical products.

Cultivation in Italy

Italy is one of the major world producers of olive oil. The farming is extended to all regions, even to the north where small micro-climate allows the plant to develop. There are many different types of cultivars, more than thirty in all the country. Different cultivars are grown for their special characteristics of oil

− Virgin olive: To be obtained only by pressing of the olives without any addition of foreign materials or mixing with other oils, other than washing, decantation, centrifugation and filtration. − Refined oils: To be derived by treatment of poor virgin oils to reduce their sourness. − The oils obtained from the residues: To be obtained from the olive residues by treatment of solvents. Each one of the three categories is further split into sub-categories. However, we are interested only in the first category i.e. Virgins oil which is subdivided into further sub categories as follows: Extra virgin olive oil: This is the first rate oil, the acidity expressed as free oleic acid should not exceed 1.0 per cent, without taste imperfection and to correspond to strict physic-chemical characteristics. Virgin olive oil: The taste is very good and acidity does not exceed 2.0 per cent. Ordinary virgin olive oil: The taste is considered good and the acidity is less than 3.3 per cent. Lampante virgin olive oil: The taste is not so good, and acidity above 3.3 per cent. It is called “lampante” because, in the past, it was used for lighting the lamps. Tuscany, the region where my farm is located, is at geographical extreme limit for the cultivation of olive trees. In this area the ripening of the plant is more difficult due to the frost and weather variations that in the past destroyed olive groves in the devastating winters of 1907, 1929, 1956 and 1985. However, the extreme climate has an advantage as


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the quality of oil here is much superior as borne out from the sale price of olive oil: the Tuscan extra virgin oil is not sold for less than 7-9.5 €/kg compared to the oil produced elsewhere which is sold at 5 €/kg.

My personal experience

Agriculture is not my main activity, but I like it spend my time on the farm in order to preserve the landscape and arborous heritage that if abandoned will soon become wild and finally lost. My personal target is to produce an excellent quality extra-virgin olive oil for personal use and to sell the excess to recover cost. I own a small farm, a little more than a hectare, partially cultivated as olive groves besides various types of fruit trees grown for pleasure. There are 220 olive trees, which sprang up from the old plants damaged in January 1985, when snow and ice stormed with temperature below – 180C. The old trees were cut down and the buds sprouted started to fruit again after 5-6 years.

cum-fertilizer, comprising organic fertilizer, urea, phosphorus and potassium, is spread around each tree. The cost of this operation including material is about 400€. Pruning: March, April till end of May, before the bloom period, is the most suited for pruning. It is the most expensive operation and, in my opinion, also the most exciting – a full symbiosis between man (the grower) and the nature (the plant). Pruning depends on: local conditions, farming technology and type of cultivar. The target is to increase production through eliminating the parts that have already completed their task. Pruning of olive is a complex task on which there are many manuals available. It is also very expensive and the majority of people are not fully conversant with the technical details, and this contributes to raising the operating costs.

The farm with a quincunx layout can carry more trees, about 300 plants per hectare, depending on the type of cultivar and size, with distance varying from 6-5 m to 6-8 m. The rule for the distance is to avoid interference among the foliages of the trees once fully developed.

I don’t have any labourer and do everything myself; of course my wife helps me for less tiring jobs, as olives harvesting. For the special tasks that require machinery, or farm tractor like the seasonal grass cutting, I call for specialized contractor on hourly payment basis.


The sequence of jobs carried out during the year is as under: Manuring: In February, before the plants start sprouting and the soil is still wet, 2-5 kg manure-



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In the beginning I engaged some specialists (hourly cost 9-10 €). This was very expensive; it was rather cheaper to purchase the oil instead to producing my own from the olive trees. Then I started working with some experts with the result that I am now pruning olive trees personally, although I can not do it fast – only an average of 10 trees a day – while an expert may prune double of this number. I alternate the pruning; half trees one year and the rest the next year. The pruning’s residuals are chopped and left on the field as natural fertilizer. Grass cutting: It is done 2-3 times in a year, depending on the rains in the season. Generally it is done in May, up to the end of June. I call for the service a shredders tractor that cuts the grass in 4-5 hours, with yearly cost of 300-400€.

Milling: It is the final test that provides the final award and compensation for one year’s hard work.

Pesticide treatment: There are many pests that can attack the plants, however, the trees properly grown with appropriate fertilizers may normally resist the attack. The most dreadful parasite is the Olive Fly (Dacus Oleae) especially during the rainy years. To avoid its damage I apply a mixture, in small bait-trap bags, to each tree, containing synthetic pheromones and sugar with some poison. The cost is about 110 € and the application is made twice in July and August. Sometimes I give a foliar treatment with some nutritive products as copper sulphate. The yearly cost is 75 € for the products and 70 € for spraying service.

Green-summer pruning: It is done at the end of August, or in the beginning of September in order to contain the excessive vegetative growth and to preserve nutrients for the fruits. It consists of removing the vertical branches, areal suckers and the basal barren growth. I spend one week to complete the task. Harvesting: It is done at the end of October, or beginning of November, when the olives are ripe. The drupes will be squeezed with fingers, so that the fruit’s stone, or endocarp, can be removed from the pulp (mesocarp). I do the harvesting myself with the help of my wife and, occasionally, of my sons. However, in a favorable year I hire external labour that will be paid in accordance with the local practice: 6 per cent of the oil produced by the olives collected by themselves, practically something less of 50 per cent, considering that the land owner will support all the expenses. Normally, if the weather is good, harvesting requires three weeks to be completed.

The harvested olives are brought to the mill, as quickly as possible, to avoid fruit deterioration. In Tuscany almost every village has its own olive’s mill. The olives are weighed and dropped into a hopper, washed to remove leaves and foreign residues, and milled. The mixture will be stirred for long gently (kneading), in special tanks of double sleeve, with circulating lukewarm water, to facilitate the aggregation of oil drops and to help separate oil from aqueous phase. During this phase the temperature is around 350C. Once kneading is completed, the oily mixture formed by oil, water, pulp and stones of olives that will be passed through a decanter centrifuge to separate the oil from water and solids. The oil, thus, obtained is the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The residue, after centrifugation, is left for the mill’s owner, who will recover from it oil of lower quality and use the solids for additional recovery through solvent and rectification. The cost of milling olives is 0.160 €/kg.

The oil content:

The production of olive’s fruit, as most fruit trees, alternates between good to medium and low years. My personal records show that the production varies from 1,200 to 2,600 kg/year. The oil recovery normally is in the range of 15 per cent, but I consider myself particularly lucky because normally I achieve 16-18 per cent, and this year it has been very special with 22 per cent, because of many factors such as weather conditions, appropriate pruning, and proper manuring. The type of cultivar also determines the oil content. At the milling plant, with some additional cost they can carry out the analysis of the oil: acidity and peroxide value that will help for better commercial evaluation of the oil and its stability, i.e. acidity of an extra-virgin should not exceed 1 per cent; however, oil


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Econmics of olive oil production 1.

Total value of oil produced per tree : 1.425 kg/tree x 6.5e/kg =9.26E.


Expenses deducted : - Milling cost : 1.54 E. - Harvest labours cost (6% of weight olive collected, calculated on 15% oil yield : 0.56 E. - Cost per tree for land treatment : 2.00 E - Cost for manuring : 2.00 e - Cost for pesticide treatment : 0.73 E - Total deductions : 6.83 E.


Profit : 9.26-6.83=2.43$/tree equivalent to 26%.

oil, but I prefer to use 15 per cent, as is used by all farmers in order to compensate some catastrophic years caused by weather conditions. So the oil production per tree will be 1,425 gm on an average. The price of extra-virgin oil in Tuscany is around 9.3 €/kg, with variation of plus/minus one euro, according the years.

I have a small activity and a small quantity of oil to Not : be sold. Therefore, I don’t The profit appears handsome, but not enough to compensate for my time spent in the consider the cost for the field, about 250 hrs/year. Assuming my hourly cost at least 5E/hr, (half of profestime I spent on the field sional people of the sector) the total value is 1.250 E wihc corresponds to 6.25 E/tree. operations and I sell oil at This means a loss of -3.82 E/tree. In order to avoid the loss I have to sell my oil at a price lower than the marminimum of 9.18 E/kg that is line with market price of regional production. ket: 6.5 €/Kg, just to recover part of my running of my production has an acidity of 0.1 per cent. The expenses and the capital invested to purchase the experts consider below 0.3 per cent as excellent oil. equipment. Conservation: After milling, the extra-virgin oil shows the characteristic green color, due to the presSo considering that each olive’s tree will produce an ence of micro-residual of pulp (chlorophyll), and a average of 1,425 gm of extra-virgin oil the economlittle spicy taste, which is appreciated by many users ics are as follows: for making special dishes of regional cookery. The micro-residuals then will settle slowly during the The final remarks conservation period in the cellar and are eliminated by decantation. The oil will be stored at room temAs mentioned above, my purpose is not profit, but is perature, in dark environment protected from the to maintain my farm land in good condition in order light, which will in a few months assume the typical to achieve personal satisfaction. However, the situstraw-color appearance giving the best organoleptic ation of the farms in the area is quite different: for characteristics, taste and fragrance. them the profit is a matter of survival and they have Economics: No doubt the work for pleasure has its to fight in an ggressive competition by introducing own reward i.e. satisfaction. However, if we can add oil in the market at very low cost, in the range of some profit to the pleasure that is of added advantage. 5 €/kg. Therefore, rather than producing an oil of Therefore, it seems appropriate to glance at the costs. outstanding quality, they are forced to optimize to As already mentioned, my production is not conthe extreme all the working operations, by reducstant; it varies between 250 kg in a bad year to ing time spent per tree in pruning, accelerating the 400 kg in a good year. The gap is big which I try harvest period, using auto system to get chain work to bridge through rationalizing the process and infor obtaining a minimum of 8 box of olives per day, creasing the production by improving techniques of against 5-6 of normal etc. FO pruning and manuring. Higher production also reduces some costs. References consulted The pruning which I did every year earlier, I do it now every two years in order to avoid hurting the Giorgini, G. (1989) trees frequently, especially when low production Come si coltiva l’olivo is expected, and paying more attention to weaker Del Fabbro, A. (2004) trees. Further, introducing new harvest systems can Coltivare l’olivo reduce time and cost of hiring labour. Nizzi Grifi, F. (2002) I have 220 trees at my farm, but some of them are La Potatura dell’olivo in Toscanatoo young and others to be regenerated. So let us Riflessionin tecniche consider only 200 trees available for economic calMr. Paolo Pratelli is Vice President Operations, Fronculation. Each tree can produce an average of 9.5 tera Resources. kg of olives and oil yield of 17 per cent extra-virgin



Issue 58

Sulphur in Crop Production in Pakistan M. Ehsan Akhtar and Ghulam Nabi Sulphur (S) is vital for life and essential for plant growth. It is the 4th major plant nutrient after nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Research on use of S as a fertilizer is rather scanty in Pakistan. However, some recent studies have indicated concern about S deficiency in certain areas. This needs to be taken care of for obtaining optimal crop productivity. Sulphur is required by agricultural crops in amounts comparable to P and is needed by plants for protein synthesis and other metabolic reactions affecting crop yields and quality of the produce. Most crops remove from 15 to 25 kg S/ha (Table 1). Oilseed crops and legumes require more S than P for optimal yield and quality.

Table-1 Estimated removals of sulphur by Various crops


Yield (t/ha)

S removal (kg/ha)




















Source: Farming Outlook - June 2010



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23 15

10 10 23

Role of sulphur in plants

Sulphur is known for its role in the formation of amino acids (methionine: 21 per cent S and cystine: 27 per cent S), and synthesis of protein and chlorophyll. It is also associated with synthesis of vitamins (B1, biotine and thiamine), metabolism of carbohydrate, protein and oils formation in oil seeds, besides nodulation in leguminous plants and nutritive quality of forages. Typical concentrations of S in plants range between 0.1 and 0.4 per cent. A deficiency of S, which has a pronounced retarding effect on plant growth, is characterized by uniformly chlorotic plants; stunted, thin-stemmed and spindly. In many plants these symptoms resemble those of N deficiency. However, unlike N, sulphur does not appear to be easily translocated from older to younger plant parts when it is deficient.

Sulphur deficient cruciferous crops such as cabbage and canola / rapeseed will initially develop a reddish color on the underside of the leaves. In canola / rapeseed the leaves are also cupped inward. However, it is not an easy task as symptoms in different crops, and their cultivars, vary considerably. Some pictures of deficiency symptoms are given in the paper as an example. These pictures were produced under conditions other than Pakistan.

Sulphur status of Pakistan soils

Soil S reserves in Pakistan, mostly from inorganic fractions, are generally considered adequate. Therefore, information regarding research on use of S as a fertilizer is rather scanty. However, some recent studies have indicated concern about S deficiency in certain areas. National Fertilizer Development Centre (NFDC) conducted a country-wide survey of benchmark soils and concluded that 15 per cent of sampled soil were deficient (10 mg S kg-1 of soil), 30 per cent in the satisfactory range (11-30 mg S kg-1) while majority of the soils had adequate S levels (Ahmad et al., 1992).

Amongst provinces, the highest S contents were found in the central Punjab, irrigated by canal or with tube-well water and the lowest in medium textured, well drained soils of the Pothowar. In Sindh, average value for surface soil (0-20 cm) was 50 mg S kg-1 and only 7 per cent of the soils fell in deficient range while the rest of the soils had sufficient S content. In NWFP, none of the soils was found deficient in S contents. However, in Baluchistan, only three samples out of 14 were deficient in S. The report concluded that deficiency of sulphur can occur in the Pothowar areas of the Punjab, southern and central Sind and Quetta as well as Pashin valley of Baluchistan. National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), conducted a detailed survey of the Pothowar soils and concluded that 49 per cent samples (0-15 cm depth) were S deficient whereas 41 per cent sam-

ples had adequate S levels (Rahmatullah, 1992). Studies conducted by the University of Arid Agriculture, Rawalpindi (Rizwan, 2007) also confirmed these findings.

Sources of sulphur in soils Organic sulphur

Most of S is contained in the soil organic matter. When organic matter is mineralized, S is released as SO4-2 and becomes available to plants. The process, however, is slow, depending upon the activity of microbes and, thus, mineralization of organic matter. Inorganic soil sulphur

The sulphur in Pakistan soils mostly exists in inorganic fraction as sulphates of calcium (gypsum), magnesium, sodium or potassium. It also occurs in slightly soluble sulphide salts.

Deficiency symptoms of Sulphur Courtesy: Pictures from K+S KALI GmbH through Dr. Thomas Popp



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Sulphur deposition through rainfall

Substantial quantities of atmospheric S have been reported to contribute in S addition to soils. Sulphur dioxide is released into the air and the latter brought back to the soil by rains. Annual deposition of as much as 234 and as little as 2.2 kg S ha-1 in rainfall had been reported (Erickson, 1960). More recent studies have revealed that in the Pothowar region as much as 7-25 kg S ha-1 can be added during one year through rainfall (Rahmatullah et al., 1996). Plants are also capable of absorbing atmospheric S directly from atmosphere, however, its contribution is difficult to quantify. There may be considerable quantities of SO2 in industrial and appreciable in rural areas as well.

Sulphur from irrigation water

Irrigation water is an important source of S to crops in Pakistan. Of a total cultivated areas of 22.66 million ha, about 18 million ha is irrigated. Of which 11.7 million is irrigated by canals from rivers and the rest from tube-wells. The S contents of irrigation water vary markedly depending upon the source (Table 2). The S content in river water ranges from 0.12 to 1.08 me/l (Hamid et al, 1977) which can add



Issue 58

about 15-25 kg S ha-1 annually, enough to meet most of crops’ needs. The S content in tube-well waters is generally much higher than river waters which indicated that S application to such crop receiving tube-well irrigation is not needed.

Sulphur addition as fertilizers

A large number of field crops response to S experiments were conducted by NFDC (1992) on wheat, maize, lentils, mungbean, soybean and raya during 1985 to 1992 in the Punjab. However, significant response to applied S was only observed in case of raya (Ahmad et al, 1994). Similar multi-location experiments were also conducted by NARC on sunflower and brassica on S-deficient soils. The crop response to applied S was up to 10 per cent (Rehmatullah, 1992).

Sulphur cycle

Simplified S cycle is essentially a question of S input and their transformations and losses as shown below.

Table-2 Water analysis of irrigation supplies from various Iocations in Pakistan

Sample site










Well Water at Shadman

Tubewell No. 36, Mona Reclamation Project Tubewell No. 49, Mona Reclamation Project Well No. BR-25 at Bari Doab

 Indus River at Attock



SO 4





















   Jhelem  River at Gt Road Sutlej River at Ganda    Â? Â?Â? Tubewell No. 116, Mona Reclamation Project Â?  Wekk Water at Shadman    Â?  ­ Tubewell No. 36, Mona Reclamation Project






0.25   7.7 1.8 0.7 0.6

‹  0.25 7.4 1.7 0.6 0.4   Â…  034 7.6 1.8 0.4 1.2    ÂŒ     3.60 7.7 2.5 0.4 32.0  1.12 7.5 2.7 1.5 3.3 0.1    3.65 7.5 1.6 6.7 30.8















* Ayers R.S., and D.W. Westcot. 1994 Wai quality for agriculture. FAO irrigation and drainage paper 29.xy.  

 €    ‚

„Â…    Summary remarks Â?    Pakistan soils are generally impoverished of plant Â…ÂŒ nutrients. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potash are well  ÂŒ known fertilizer nutrients followed by some micro ÂŽ   nutrients such as zinc, boron and iron. However,   sulphur a neglected element, especially when it has     been established deficient in areas such as Potohar,  „  needs attention for development.FO  


Ahmad, N., M. T. Saleem, M. Rashid and A. Jalil. 1992.


Sulphur status of Pakistan soils. National Fertilizer Development Centre, Islamabad. NFDC Publication No.

Â?ˆÂ?ˆÂ?  ‘ 7/92. ­Â?

Sources of S fertilizers 

Gypsum,ƒ   ammonium sulphate (AS) and single su- Â’ÂŒ“ Â?”  Rahmatullah.1992. Sulphur dynamics in Soil-plant    „ per-phosphate (SSP) are potential sources of S in Â?’“Â?„ Â?•–­ system for improved oilseed crop production under rainPakistan.„Â… Gypsum, (calcium sulphate) contains 18.6Â?  ­     fed areas, First Annual Repot. NARC. per centƒ   sulphur while AS contains 24 per cent S        Rahmatullah, G. Nabi, M. Salim and M. S. Zia. 1996. and SSP†‡    12 per cent. Many studies have indicted su-  Â’ Â?Â? Â?Â? Nitrogen and sulphur inputs from rainfall in Rawalpindiperiority­„­ˆ of gypsum and ammonium sulphate overÂ?  ƒÂ? ˆˆ— Islamabad Area. Pak. J. Soil Science. 12:51-55. ‡     elemental sulphur with regard to S uptake by crops.   „Â…‘    Potassium sulphate (SOP) is yet another good ­‚ŠŠŠ Hamid, A., J. Khan and A. H. Raja. 1977. Investigations source of   S, containing 18 per cent S. on quality assessment of some representative sample of Â… „ 

Ž ‘˜  Ž�™••

surface and groundwater of NWFP. Proc. of “Seminar

Several manufactures have elemental sulphur prod-      ‰„  on Water Mgt. for Agri.â€? 1977. Vol. II. Exxon, Chem. ucts available with different trade names. These     Pak. Ltd. †  Â?Â?„š›ˆ products contain more than 85 per cent S content  Âœ••ž””Â&#x;  Â? „Â…ÂĄ Rizwan, K. 2007. Sulphur status of some Pothwar soil with a small amount of blending material usually     and response of rapeseed (brassica napus) to different bentonite to facilitate blending and application.Â?ÂŒ˜­  •  Â? Â?      sulphur fertilizers under rainfed conditions. PhD thesis, Before S becomes available for plant uptake, the el-   Â?  University of Arid Agriculture, Rawalpindi. emental sulphur must first be oxidized to sulphate Â?„ “ ¢    †Š 

Â? and, thus, its release can be slow depending upon Dr. M. Ehsan Akhtar and Dr. Ghulam Nabi, Land Re  many factors e.g., climate, soil conditions, nature sources Research Institute, National Agriculture Reand status of microbial populating. search Centre, Islamabad ­Â?€Â?‚­Â?ƒ „     Â… 



Issue 58

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